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/ » 









J. G. FRAZER, D.C.L., LL.D., Lrrr.D. 








AU rights rtutXftU 



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KILLING THE GOD, pp. I -448 

§ 1. Killing the Divine King, pp. 1-59. — The high gods mortal, pp. 1-5; 
human gods also mortal and therefore put to death in their prime, before 
decay sets in, p. 5 sq, ; common men for the same reason prefer a violent 
death, pp 6-8 ; the Chitom^, the Ethiopian kings of Meroe, and other 
African kings and chiefs put to death, especially on any symptom of bodily 
decay, pp 8-13 ; in South India kings kill themselves after reign of twelve 
years, p i^ sq.\ mitigation of this rule in case of king of Calicut, p. 15 ; 
kings regularly succeeded by their murderers in Bengal, Passier in 
Sumatra, and among the old Slavs, pp. 15-17 ; substitutes put to death 
for Sultan of Java, p. 1 7 sq. ; Dorian kings liable to be deposed every eight . 
years, on sign of falling star, p 18 j^.; fifdling stars feared, pp 19-21, 
regarded as souls of dead, pp 21-23 ; mock king put to death every year 
at Babylonian festival of the Sacaea, probably as a substitute for the real 
king, pp 24-26 ; king of Ngoio killed after reign of one day, p. 26 ; in 
Cambodia and Siam king abdicates annually and is replaced for a short 
time by a temporary king, pp. 26-30 ; temporar>' king at the beginning of 
each reign, p. 30 sq, ; these temporary kings perform magical functions and 
sometimes belong to the roj-al stock, pp 31-34 ; members of royal families 
liable to be sacrificed at Alus and Orchomenus in Greece, pp 34-38 ; 
kings and also common people sacrifice their children among the Semites, 
pp 38-40 ; references to the custom in Scripture, pp. 40-43 ; probably 
the victims were the firstborn, pp. 43-47 ; this confirmed by tradition of 
origin of Passover, pp. 47-501 children, especially the firstborn, sacrificed 
by other peoples besides the Semites, pp. 51-55 ; thus king probably 
allowed to sacrifice first his son and afterwards a criminal instead of him- 
self, p 55 ^^' ; soul of deceased transmitted to successor, pp 56-59. 

% 2. Killing ike Tree-spirit, pp 59-7a— King of the Wood probably killed 
formerly at end of set term, p. 59 sq, ; pretence of killing leaf-clad repre- 
sentatives of tree-spirit (the Pfingstl, the Wild Man, the King) every year 


at Whitsuntide in Germany and Austria, pp. 60-65 J tree-spirit killed 
annually lest he should grow old and feeble, p. 65 sq, ; resemblance of 
these modem mummers to the King of the Wood, p. 66 sq, ; a mock 
human sacrifice often substituted for a real one, pp. 67-70. 

§ 3. Carrying mU Deaths pp. 70-115. — Death and burial of the Carnival repre- 
sented in effigy or by living person in Italy, Spain, France, Austria, and 
Germany, pp. 71-81 ; ceremonies of the same sort in Greece and Esthonia, \ 
p. %i sq,\ pretence of resiu'rection, p. 82 ; effigy of Death carried out 
and thrown avray or destroyed in Lent, pp. 82-86; *' Sawing the 
Old Woman" at Mid- Lent, pp. 86-89, pnu:tised by gypsies on Palm j \ 
Sunday, p. 89 sq, ; effigies of Lent with seven legs rent in pieces, p. 90 x^. ; 1 
carrying out of Death followed by a pretence of bringing in Summer, which | 
is represented by a tree, branches, a puppet, or a living person, pp. 91-94 ; f 
in these customs the effigies of Death and the Carnival probably repre- : 
sented originally the dying or dead tree-spirit or spirit of vegetation, ; 
pp. 94-99 ; contrast between vegetation in winter and spring represented 
by dramatic contest between actors who play the parts of Winter and ; 
Summer, pp. 99-103 ; struggle between representatives of summer and j 
winter among the Esquimaux, p. 103 sq, ; funeral of Kostrubonko, Kupalo, 
Kostroma, Yarilo, and other vegetation-spirits in Russia, pp. 105-107 ; 
in these ceremonies sorrow mixed with joy, affection with fear, p. 107 ; 
Albanian ceremony of throwing Kore into a river, p. 108 ; the £ur of 
Rail in India, p. 108 sq. ; the foregoing ceremonies magic rites intended 
by means of sympathetic magic to secure the revival of vegetation in 
spring, pp. 110-113; analogous ceremonies performed by the Central 
Australian savages at the approach of the rainy season, pp. 1 1 3- 1 1 5. 

% ^ Adonis^ pp. 1 1 5- 1 30. — Rites representing the death and resurrection of 
vegetation prevalent in ancient 'Egypt and Western Asia imder the names 
of Osiris, Adonis, Tammuz, Attis, and Dionysus, p. 115; worship of 
Adonis borrowed by Greeks from Syria, p. 1 15 f^. ; his marriage, death, 
and resurrection annually acted, p. 116; the red anemone his blood, 
p. 116 if.; his rites a dramatic representation of the yearly decay and 
revival of plant life, pp. 117- 119; legend that the bones of the slain 
Tammuz were ground in a mill, p. 1 19 ; the Gardens of Adonis charms to 
promote the growth of the crops, pp. 1 1 9-1 21 ; the throwing of them into 
water a rain-charm like the custom of throwing water on persons at harvest 
and sowing, pp. 121-123 ; Babylonian festival at which water was thrown 
on effigy of dead Tammuz, p. 123 sq, ; analogies to the Gardens of Adonis 
in India and Sardinia, pp. 124-127 ; the Sardinian custom observed at 
midsummer and associated with bonfires, p. 127 Jf. ; modes of diunation 
at midsummer resembling the Gardens of Adonis, p. 129 sq,\ gardens of 
Adonis still planted by Sicilian women, p. 130. 

S 5. Attis^ pp. 130-137.— Attis a Phrygian deity of vegetation, his death and 
resurrection annually celebrated, pp. 130-132 ; originally a tree-spirit, but 
also identified with the com, pp. 132-134; his priests probably slain in 


ii the character of the god, pp. 134-136; Hyacinth perhaps another 

^ embodiment of the flowery spring, his death annually mourned at 

i Amyclae, p. 136 sg, 

§ 6. Osiris, pp. 137-160. — Myth of Osiris, pp. 137-139; his death and burial 
celebrated with annual rites, p. 140 sg. ; Osiris as a corn-spirit, pp. 141 -143, 
as a tree-spirit, pp. 143-145; Isis as a corn-goddess, p. 145 sq.\ Osiris 
i sometimes interpreted as the sun, p. 146 sq, ; position of the sun-god Ra 

in Egyptian religion, pp. 147-150; Osiris represents not the sun but the 
annual growth and decay of vegetation, pp. 150-152 ; Osiris identified by 
some ancient authorities with the moon, pp. 152-154; moon popularly 
regarded as the cause of growth and the source of moisture, pp. 154-159 ; 
hence moon especially worshipped by agricultural peoples, p. 1 59 sq, ; this 
explains association of corn-god Osiris with the moon, p. 160. 

S 7. Dionysus f pp. 160-168. — Dionysus a tree-god, p. 160 j^. ; l^end of his 
violent death and resurrection, pp. 161-163 ; his sufferings, death, and 
resurrection enacted in his rites, p. 163 i^. ; Dionysus as a bull, p. 164 sq, ; 
a live bull torn to pieces at his rites, p. 165 ; Dionysus as a goat, p. 165 sq, ; 
a live goat torn and devoured raw by his worshippers, p. 166 ; gods 
killed in the form of their sacred animals, p. 166 sq, ; at rites of Dionysus 
a man sometimes torn in pieces instead of an animal, p. 168. 


§ 8. Denuter attd Proserpine, pp. 168-222. — Myth of Demeter and Proserpine, 
p. 168 sq, ; annual death and resurrection of Proserpine represented in her 
rites, p. 169 ; Demeter interpreted by Mannhardt as the Barley-mother or 
Corn-mother, p. 169 5q,\ the Com -mother in modem superstition, 
p. 1 70 sq, ; the Com-mother present in the last com cut at harvest, 
pp. 1 71-173; the last sheaf also called the Harvest-mother, the Great 
Mother, the Grandmother, the Old Man, the Old Woman, pp. 173-176 ; 
in Scotland the last sheaf sometimes called the CcdlUach or Old Wife, 
pp. 176-178, in Wales the Hag {Wrach)^ ?• 178 sq,, and among the 
Slavs the Baba or Boba (Old Woman), p. 179 sq, ; the Harvest Queen in 
England, p. 181 ; the spirit of the com as Mother-com or Old Woman 
present in last com threshed, p. \%i sq,\ pretence of birth on harvest- 
field, p. 182 sq, ; Harvest-Child, Kem-Baby, the Mell, p. 183 ; last sheaf 
called the Maiden in some parts of ScotUuid, pp. 184-186 ; the Oats-bride, 
the Wheat-bride, p. 186 sq, ; corn-spirit sometimes represented in Scotland 
simultaneously as an old and a young woman {Cailleach and Maiden), 
pp. 187-190 ; analogy of these harvest customs to spring customs previously 
described, p. 190 j^. ; marks of a primitive ritual, p. \^\ sq,% the spring 
and harvest customs in question bear these marks, p. 192 ; this supported 
by analogy of harvest customs in other parts of the world, p. 192 sqq, ; 
Peruvian Mother of the Maize, p. 193 sq,\ Mexican harvest customs, 
p. 194 j^.; the Mother-cotton in the Punjaub, p. 195; harvest custom 
among the Berbers, p. 195 sq, ; securing the "soul of the rice" in Borneo 
and Burma, pp. 196-198 ; the Rice-mother and Rice-child among the 
Malays, pp. 198-201 ; marriage of Rice-bride and Rice -bridegroom in 
Java, p. 201 sq, ; among the Mandan and Minnitaree Indians the goddess 



of the com personated by old women, p. 203 iq. ; the spirit of the com 
sometimes represented simultaneously in male and female fbnn by a man 
and woman, p. 204 ; this representation based on idea that plants are 
propagated by the intercourse of the sexes, p. 204 ; intercourse of the 
human sexes resorted to or mimicked as a sympathetic charm to promote 
the growth of the crops, ppi 204-209 ; continence sometimes piactised for 
the same purpose, pp. 209-21 1 ; illicit love supposed to blight the crops^ 
pp. 211-214 ; suggested origin of Lent, pu 214 ; why profligacy and ooq- 
tinenoe should both be supposed to aflect the crops, pp. 214-216; Demeter ' 
and Proserpine originally the Corn-mother and the Com-maiden, pp. 2i6- i 
218 ; why die Greeks rep re se nted the com in duplicate as mother and I \ 
danghter, pp. 218-222. j 

I 9. Ut/erus^ ppi 222-261. — Death and resunection of Adonis, Attis, Osiiis, 
and Dionysus probably originated in simple rustic rites at harwest and 
Tintage, pu 222 ; some of these rites known to us, p. 223 ; Maneras^ 
linns, and Boraras plaintive songs or cries uttered by reapers and 
vintagers in Egypt, Phoenicia, and Bithynia, pu 223 sq,\ similar song 
called lityerses sung at reaping and tfiredung in Fhrygia, pu 224 ; stoty 
bow lityerses wia p ped strangers in dieaves on the harwest-field and cut off 
their beads, pu 224 sq. ; paiallek to the legend in modem harwest owlnms i 
Pl 225 tqq, ; reaper, binder, or thredier of last com, as representing the | 
oom-cpirit, wrapt in com, beaten, drendied with water, etc, pp. 225-229; | 
corn-spirit killed at reaping or threshing, pu 230 sq, ; corn-spirit rqve- 
sented by passing stranger who is seised and wrapt in com, pi 232 if. ; 
ptetenoe made of killing a stranger or the master himsdf on the harwest- 
fidd or at threshing, pp. 233-235 ; passing struiger treated at the madder- 
harvest as die spirit of the madder, pp. 235-237 ; human beii^ killed to 
pfomote die fertility of the fields in America, Africa, India, etc, pp. 237- 
241 ; human sacrifices for this purpose among the Khonds, pp. 341-246 ; 
analogy of these savage rites to harvest customs of Europe, pi 247 if. ; 
both in Europe and in Phrygia human beii^ formerly slain at harwest as 
representatives of the oom-spirit, ppi 250-252 ; in Phrygia the victims may 
have been priestly kings, p. 250 ; relation of Lityerses to Attis, pi 250 if. ; 
die Bormus song probably a lamentation of reapers over slain com-spirit, 
Pl 252 ; die Linus song probably sung by vintagers and reapers over the 
dead spirit of the vines and the com, pu 252 sq.i Linus perhaps the 
rustic p ro t o ty pe of Adonis, p. 253 ; Adonis or Tammnx perhaps once 
rep res en ted by a human victim, possibly by the mock king of the Sacaea 
at Babylon, pu 253 sq. ; Osiris as the slain com-spirit r ep resented by red- 
haired men whose ashes were winnowed, pp. 254-257 ; ancient harwest 
cries (Maneros, Linus, Litjrenes, Bormus) announced the death of the 
corn-spirit, p. 257 sq. ; modem harvest cries (Devtonshire *' crying the 
Neck," etc), pp. 258-261. 

I 10. Tlu C^nt'Spirit as an Animal^ ppi 261-318. — Com-spirit conceived as an 
animal which us present in the com and is caught or killed in the last 
sheaf, pp. 261-263 ; com-spirit as wolf or dog, ppi 263-266, as code, 
ppi 266-269, as hare, p. 269 if., as cat, pu 270 if., as goat, pp. 271-277, 


as bull or cow, pp. 277-281, as horse, pp. 281-283, ^ P^S* PP* 284-288 ; 
sacramental character of harvest supper, divine animal slain and eaten by 
harvesters as embodiment of corn-spirit, p. 288 ; parallelism between 
conceptions of com -spirit in human and in animal form, p. 288 sq^ ; why 
corn-spirit is conceived as an animal, p. 289 sq. ; Dionysus as goat and 
bull probably still a deity of vegetation, pp. 291-294 ; ox as representative 
of spirit of vegetation in the Athenian bouphonia^ in an African sacrifice, 
and a ceremony observed by the Chinese in spring, pp. 294-298 ; the corn- 
goddesses Demeter and Proserpine conceived as pigs, pp. 299-303 ; the 
horse-headed Demeter, p. 303 ; Attis and Adonis embodied in pigs, 
pu 304 sq, ; the pig originally a sacred animal of the Jews and Egyptians, 
pp. 305-310 ; the pig perhaps formerly an embodiment of the corn-god 
Osiris, pu 310 sq,\ red oxen as embodiments of Osiris, p. 311 sq.\ the 
sacred Egyptian bulls Apis and Mnevis, origin of their worship uncertain, 
p. 312 sq,% the horse ' perhaps an embodiment of Virbius as a deity of 
v^etation, pp. 313-315 ; sacrifice of the October horse, as embodiment of 
the corn-spirit, at Rome, pp. 315^318. 

g II. Eating iht God^ pp. 318-366. — New com eaten sacramentally in Europe, 
pp. 318-321; new rice eaten sacramentally in East Indies, India, and 
Indo-China, pp. 321-325 ; eating new yams on the Niger, p. 325 ; Caffire 
festival of new fruits, pp. 325-328; festival of new com among the 
Creek, Seminole, and Natchez Indians, pp. 329-335 ; preparation for 
eating sacred food by purgatives, &sting, etc, pp. 335-337 ; sacrifice of 
first-fruits, p. 337 ; dough images of gods eaten sacramentally l^ the 
Mexicans, pp. 337-342 ; flesh of a man who represented a god also eaten 
sacramentally by the Mexicans, p. 342 sq, ; at Aricia loaves perhaps baked 
in the image of the slain King of the Wood and eaten by the worshippers, 
p. 343 sq. ; the Compitalia, p. 343 sq, ; effigies offered to ghosts and 
demons as substitutes for living people, pp. 344-352 ; belief of the savage 
that he acquires the qualities of animals and men by eating their flesh, 
inoculating himself with their ashes, or anointing himself with their fiit, 
PP> 353~3^5 t bence his reason for eating a god is to imbue himself with 
the divine qualities, p. 365 sq, 

§12. Killing the Divine Animal^ pp. 366-448. — Hunters and shepherds as well 
as £Binners kill their gods, p. 366 ; Califomian sacrifice of the great 
buzzard, p. 366 sq, ; Egyptian sacrifice of the ram of Ammon, p. 368 sq, ; 
use of skin of divine animal, p. 369 sq, ; annual sacrifice of the cobra- 
capella in Fernando Po, p. 370 sq. ; Zuni sacrifice of the turtle, pp. 371- 
374 ; worship and slaughter of bears by the Ainos, pp. 374-3^0, the 
Gilyaks, pp. 380-386, the Goldi, p. 386, and the Orotchis, p. 386 ; the 
respect of these peoples for the bear apparently inconsistent with their 
custom of killing and eating them, p. 387, but this inconsistency not felt 
by the savage, who draws no sharp distinction between himself and the 
animals, pp. 387-389 ; the savage hunter dreads the vengeance of the 
animals he has killed or of the other creatures of the species, p. 389 ; 
hence he spares dangerous and useless animals, p. 389, such as crocodiles, 
pp. 389-393f <>g««. PP 393-395. snakes, etc, p. 395 sq, ; and in killing 


animals he tries to appease them and their fellows, p. 396 ; thus 
bear-hunters* flatter and cajole the slain bears, pp. 396-400 ; elephant- c- 
hunters beg pardon of the elephants, p. 400 5q.\ marks of respect \\ 
shown to dead lions and leopards, p. 401 ; eagle-hunters feed the dead l 
eagles, p. 401 sq, ; respect shown for animals varies according to the \ 
strength and utility of the beast, p. 402 sq, ; propitiation of sables and 
beavers by the hunters, pp. 403-406 ; propitiation of deer, elan, and elk 
by American Indians, pp. 406-408 ; respect shown by Esquimaux and 
Greenlanders for the reindeer and seal they have killed, pp. 408-410 ; 
propitiation of fish, especially the first fish of the season, by fishing people, 
pp. 410-415 ; bones of game respected, sometimes from a belief in the ! \ 
resurrection of animals, pp. 415-417 ; bones of men sometimes preserved 
or destroyed to &cilitate or prevent their resurrection, p. 417 j^. ; 
resurrection of animals and men in folk -tales, p. 418 sq,\ sinew of ; 
the thigh of slain animals preserved, perhaps as necessary for the repro- 
duction of the species, pp. 419-421 ; vermin, such as weevils, leaf-flies, 
caterpillars, locusts, mice and rats, propitiated by fiurmers to induce them \ 
to spare the crops, pp. 422-426 ; images of the noxious creatures made as 
talismans against them, p. 426 sq,\ Greek gods vrorshipped under the \ 
title of the pests they exterminated, hence Mouse Apollo, Locust Apollo, \ 
Mildew Apollo, Locust Hercules, etc., p. 427 ; the worship originally \ 
paid not to the gods but to the pests themselves (mice, locusts, mildew, < 
etc.), p. 427 sq,\ Wolfish Apollo and the wolves, p. 428 sq,\ certain' 
animals or species of animals spared because they contain the souls of 
dead people, pp. 430-435 ; attitude of Ainos and Gilyaks to the bear 
explained, p. 435 sq,\ two types of animal worship, p. 436 j^., and 
corresponding to them two types of animal sacrament, the Egyptian and 
the Aino types, p. 437 ; sacraments of pastoral tribes, pp. 438-441 ; 
procession with image of sacred snake as a form of communion, p. 441 sq,\ 
"hunting the wren" and processions with the dead bird on Christmas 
Day or St. Stephen's Day, pp. 442-446 ; procession with man in cow- 
hide on last day of the year, p. 446 sq, ; such customs probably were once 
modes of communion with a divine animal, p. 447 sq. 

Swinging as a Magical Rite .... 449-456 

The Doctrine of Lunar Sympathy . . 457f 458 

Offerings of First-fruits .... 459-471 





*' Sed adhuc supersunt oUae superstitiones, quarum secreta pandenda sunty 
. . . ut et in istis profanis religionibus sciatis mortes esse hominum conseciatas." 
— FiRMlcus Maternus, Deerrortprofanarum religionum^ c 6. 

§ I. Killing the Divine King 

Lacking the idea of eternal duration primitive man naturally 
supposes the gods to be mortal like himself. The Green- 
landers believed that a wind could kill their most powerful 
god, and that he would certainly die if he touched a dog. 
When they heard of the Christian God, they kept asking if 
he never died, and being informed that he did not, they were 
much surprised, and said that he must be a very great god 
indeed.^ In answer to to the inquiries of Colonel Dodge, a 
North American Indian stated that the world was made by 
the Great Spirit Being asked which Great Spirit he meant, 
the good one or the bad one, " Oh, neither of tlieml' replied 
he, *' the Great Spirit that made the world is dead long ago. 
He could not possibly have lived as long as this." " A tribe 
in the Philippine Islands told the Spanish conquerors that 
the grave of the Creator was upon the top of Mount 
Cabunian.* Heitsi-eibib, a god or divine hero of the 
Hottentots, died several times and came to life again. His 
graves are generally to be met with in narrow defiles between 
mountains. When the Hottentots pass one of them, they 

> '^eoitx^^ Cesckichtt der Rcligioruu ^ F. Blumentritt, "Der Ahnencuhus 

(Hanover, 1806-1807), i. 48. und die relij^iosen Anschauungen der 

Malaien des Philippinen-Archipels,*' 

* R. I. Dodge, Our Wild Indians^ Mitihcilungen d. IVitner gtogr, Ctsdl- 
p. 112. schaft^ 1882, p. 198. 




throw a stone on it for good luck, sometimes muttering " Give 
us plenty of cattle." ^ The grave of Zeus, the great god of 
Greece, was shown to visitors in Crete as late as about the 
beginning of our era.^ The body of Dionysus was buried at 
Delphi beside the golden statue of Apollo, and his tomb bore 
the inscription, ** Here lies Dionysus dead, the son of Semele." * 
According to one account, Apollo himself was buried at 
Delphi ; for Pythagoras is said to have carved an inscription 
on his tomb, setting forth how the god had been killed by 
the python and buried under the tripod.* Cronus was buried 
in Sicily,* and the graves of Hermes, Aphrodite, and Ares 
were shown in Hermopolis, Cyprus, and Thrace.* 

The great gods of Egypt themselves were not exempt 
from the common lot They too grew old and died. For 
like men they were composed of body and soul, and like 
men were subject to all the passions and infirmities of the 
flesh. Their bodies, it is true, were fashioned of more ethereal 
mould, and lasted longer than ours, but they could not hold 
out for ever against the siege of time. Age converted their 
bones into silver, their flesh into gold, and their azure locks 
into lapis lazuli. When their time came they passed away 
from the cheerful world of the living to reign as dead gods 
over dead men in the melancholy world beyond the grave. 
Even their souls, like those of mankind, could only endure 
afler death so long as their bodies held together ; and hence 
it was as needful to preserve the corpses of the gods as the 
corpses of common folk, lest with the divine body the divine 
spirit should also come to an untimely end. At first their 
remains were laid to rest under the desert sands of the 

^ Sir James £. Alexander, Expedi- 
tion cf Discovery into the interior of 
Africa^ i. i66; Lichtenstein, Reisen im 
, Siid/ichen Africa, L 349 sq, ; W. H. L 
Bleek, Reynard the Fox in South Africa ^ 
P- 75 ^9-f TheophUus HahOf Tsuni- 
)| Goam^ the Supreme Being of the Khoi- 
JChoi^ pp. 56, 69. 

* Callimachus, Hymn to Zeus^ 9 sq, : 
Diodoms, iu. 61 ; Lucian, Philopseudes^ 
3 ; iV/., Jupiter Tragoedus, 45 ; id., 
Philopatris^ lo; Porphjrry, Vita Fytha- 
gorae^ 1 7 ; Cicero, De naiura deorum, 
iii. 21. 53 ; Pomponius Mela, ii. 7. 

112 ; Minucius Felix, Octavius, 21. 

^ Plutarch, Jsis et Osiris^ 35 ; 
Philochonis, Fragm, 22, in Mfiller's 
Fragm, Hist. Graec. i p. 378 ; Tatian, 
Oratio ad Craecos^ 8, cd. Otto ; Tzetzes, 
Schol, on Lycophron, 208. Cp. Ch. 
Petersen, **D^ Grab und die Tod- 
tenfeier des Dionysos," Phiiologus^ xv. 
(i860), pp. 77.91. 

* Porphyry, Vit, Pythag, 16. 

* Philochoms, Fr, 184, in Fragfti, 
Hist, Grace, ii. p. 414. 

* Lobeck, Aglaophamus, p. 574 sq. 



mountains, that the dryness of the soil and the purity of the 
air might protect them from putrefaction and decay. Hence 
one of the oldest titles of the Egyptian gods is " they who 
are under the sands." But when at a later time the discovery 
of the art of embalming gave a new lease of life to the souls 
of the dead by preserving their bodies for an indefinite time 
from corruption, the deities were permitted to share the 
benefit of an invention which held out to gods as well as to 
men a reasonable hope of immortality. Every province then 
had the tomb and mummy of its dead god. The mummy 
of Osiris was to be seen at Mendes ; Thinis boasted of the 
mummy of Anhouri ; and Heliopolis rejoiced in the posses- 
sion of that of Toumou.^ But while their bodies lay swathed 
and bandaged here on earth in the tomb, their souls, if we 
may trust the Egyptian priests, shone as bright stars in the 
firmament The soul of Isis sparkled in Sirius, the soul of 
Horus in Orion, and the soul of Typhon in the Great Bear.* 
But the death of the god did not involve the extinction of 
his sacred stock ; for he commonly had by his wife a son and 
heir, who on the demise of his divine parent succeeded to the 
full rank, power, and honours of the godhead.' The high gods 

^ G. Maspero, Histoire atuiemu des 
peupUs de I Orient classique: Us cri- 
gitus^ pp. io8-i 1 1, 1 i6-i i8. 

> Pluurch, Isis et Osiris ^ 21. 

' A. Wiedemann, Die Religion der 
aiten Atgypier^ p. 59 «|p. ; G. Maspero, 
ffiiioirt anaenm des peuples de V Orient 
elassigiu: Us origitus^ pp. 104-108, 
1 50. Hence the Egyptian deities were 
commonly arranged in trinities of a 
simple and natural type, each com- 
prising a father, a mother, and a son. 
If the Christian doctrine of the Trinity 
took shape under Egyptian inBuencc, 
the function originally assigned to the 
Holy Spirit may have been that of the 
divine mother. In the apocryphal 
Gwpel to ttu Hebrews^ as Mr. F. C. 
Conybeare was kind enough to point 
out to me, Christ spoke of the Holy 
Ghost as his mother. The passage is 
quoted by Origen {Comment, in Joan. 
JL vol. iv. col. 132, ed. Migne), and 
runs as follows: "My mother the 
Holy Spirit took me a moment ago by 
one of my hairs and carried me away 

to the great Mount Tabor." Cp. 
Origen, In Jeremiam Horn, XV, 4^ 
voL iii. col. 433, cd. Migne. In the 
reign of Trajan a certain Alcibiades, 
from Apamea in Sjrria, appeared at 
Rome with a volume in which the Holy 
Ghost was described as a female about 
ninety-six miles high and broad in pro- 
portion. See Hippolytus, Refut, om- 
nium Ifaeresium^ ix. 13, p. 462, ed. 
Duncker and Schneidewin. The Oph- 
ites represented the Holy Spirit as " the 
first woman," "mother of all living," 
who was beloved by " the first roan " 
and likewise by "the second man," 
and who conceived by one or both of 
them "the light, which they call 
Christ.*' See H. Usener, Das PVeik^ 
nacktsfest, p. 1 16 j^., quoting Irenaeus, 
i. 28. Mr. Conybeare tells me that Philo 
Judaeus, who lived in the first half of the 
first century of our era, constantly defines 
God as a Trinity in Unity, or a Unity 
in Trinity, and that the speculations of 
this Alexandrian Jew deeply influenced 
the course of Christian thought on the 


of Babylon also, though they appeared to their worshippers 
only in dreams and visions, were conceived to be human in 
their bodily shape, human in their passions, and human in 
their fate ; for like men they were born into the world, and 
like men they loved and fought and even died.^ 

One of the most famous stories of the death of a god is 
told by Plutarch. It runs thus. In the reign of the emperor 
Tiberius a certain schoolmaster named Epitherses was sailing 
from Greece to Italy. The ship in which he had taken his 
passage was a merchantman and there were many other 
passengers on board. At evening, when they were off the 
Echinadian Islands, the wind died away, and the vessel drifted, 
close in to the island of Paxae. Most of the passengers were 
awake and many were still drinl^ing wine after dinner, when 
suddenly a voice hailed the ship from the island, calling upon 
Thamus. The crew and passengers were taken by surprise^ 
for though there was an Egyptian pilot named Thamus on 
board, few knew him even by name. Twice the cry was 
repeated, but Thamus kept silence. However at the third 
call he answered, and the voice from the shore, now louder 
than ever, said, " When you are come to Palodes, announce 
that the Great Pan is dead." Astonishment fell upon all, and 
they consulted whether it would be better to do the bidding 
of the voice or not At last Thamus resolved that, if the 
wind held, he would pass the place in silence, but if it dropped 
when they were off Palodes he would give the message. Well, 
when they were come to Palodes, there was a great calm ; so 
Thamus standing in the stem and looking towards the land 
cried out, as he had been bidden, *' The Great Pan is dead." 
The words had hardly passed his lips when a great sound of 
lamentation broke on their ears, as if a multitude were 
mourning. This strange story, vouched for by many on 
board, soon got wind at Rome, and Thamus was sent for and 
questioned by the emperor Tiberius himself, who caused 
inquiries to be made about the dead god.' It has been 
plausibly conjectured that the god thus lamented was not 

mystical nature of the deity. Tims it into Christianity, 

seems not impossible that the ancient ^ L. W. King, Babylonian Religion 

Egyptian doctrine of the divine Trinity attd Mythology (London, 1899), p. S. 

may have been distilled through Philo ' VVxX^xx^^Dedefcctuoraiulomm^ 17. 


• \ 




Pan but Adonis, whose death, as we shall see, was annually 
bewailed in Greece and in the East, and whose Semitic name 
of Thammuz or Tammuz may have been transferred by mis- 
take to the pilot in Plutarch's narrative.^ However this may 
be, stories of the same kind found currency in Western Asia 
down to the Middle Ages. An Arab writer relates that in 
the year 1063 or 1064 A.D., in the reign of the caliph Caiem, 
a rumour went abroad through Bagdad, which soon spread 
all over the province of Irac, that some Turks out hunting in 
the desert had seen a black tent, where many men and 
women were beating their faces and uttering loud cries, as it 
is the custom to do in the East when some one is dead. 
And among the cries they distinguished these words, " The 
great King of the Jinn is dead, woe to this country I " In 
consequence of this a mysterious threat was circulated from 
Armenia to Chuzistan that every town which did not lament 
the dead King of the Jinn should utterly perish. Again, in 
the year 1203 or 1204 A.D. a fatal disease, 'which attacked 
the throat, raged in parts of Mosul and Irac, and it was 
divulged that a woman of the Jinn called Umm 'Uncud or 
** Mother of the Grape-cluster " had lost her son, and that all 
who did not lament for him would fall victims to the epidemic. 
• So men and women sought to save themselves from death by 
assembling and beating their faces, while they cried out in a 
lamentable voice, " O mother of the Grape-cluster, excuse us ; 
the Grape-cluster is dead ; we knew it not" ^ 

If the high gods, who dwell remote from the fret and fever 
of this earthly life, are yet believed to die at last, it is not to be 
expected that a god who lodges in a frail tabernacle of flesh 
should escape the same fate. Now primitive peoples, as we 
have seen, sometimes believe that their safety and even that of 
the world is bound up with the life of one of these god-men or 
human incarnations of the divinity. Naturally, therefore, they 
take the utmost care of his life, out of a regard for their own. 

* F. Liebrecht, CenHtsitis tvn Til- an old vintage piaculum.*' "The 

hiry^ p. 180. dread of the woishippers," he adds, 

' F. Liebrecht, op, di. p. 180 sq.; "that the neglect of the usual ritual 

W. Robertson Smith, KetigioH of the would be followed by disaster, is par- 

SimiUs^ pp. 412, 414. The latter ticularly intelligible if they regarded the 

writer observes with justice that *' the necessar)' operations of agriculture as 

wailing for 'Uncud, the divine Grape- involving the violent extinction of a 

cluster, seems to be the last surviNal of particle of divine life.'* 






But no amount of care and precaution will prevent the man-god 
from growing old and feeble and at last dying. His worship- 
pers have to lay their account with this sad necessity and to 
meeti^s best they cariT^The danger is a fonnidable one ; \ 
/or if the>»ufscr^f nature is dependent on the man^god's 
/life, what catastrophes naay not be expected from the grai 
enfeeblement of his powers and their final extinction 
death ? There is only one way of averting these dange: 
The man-god must be killed as soon as he shows symptom 
that his powers are beginning to fail, and his soul must 
transferred to a vigorous successor before it has been serious! 
impaired by^ thejhr eatened dec ayZ^^he advantages oL 
putting the man-god to death instead of allowing him to 
of old age and xlisease are, to the savage, obvious enough^ ^< 
br if the man-god dies what we call a natural death, it 
eans, according to the savage, that his soul has eith^ 
oluntarily departed from his body and refuses to return, 
more commonly that it has been extracted or at 
detained in its wanderings by a demon or sorcerer.^ in 
ny of these cases the soul of the man-god is lost to 
worshippers ; and with it their prosperity is gone and their 
very existence endangered. Even if they could arrange to 
catch the soul of the dying god as it left his lips or his 
nostrils and so transfer it to a successor, this would not 
effect their purpose ; for, thus dying of disease, his soul 
would necessarily leave his body in the last stage of weak- 
ness and exhaustion, and as such it woukl continue to drag 
out a feeble existence in the body to which it^might.^ 
transferred^^ Whereas by kilTingTbim^hiS"iivorsfiippers couldj'^N 
in the first place, make sure of catching his soul as it escaped 
and4ransfecnng^t to a suitable suc^ get ; ^iHT^Ttfae seci^ld^ 
place, by killing him before tiis natural force was abatedC 
they ivould secure that the world should not fall into jdecay 
^.(^'with thc.decay of the man-god Every purpose, therefore, 
was answered, and all dangers averted by thus killing the 
man-god and transferring his soul, while yet at its primCi'^to 
a vigorous successor. 

Some of the reasons for preferring a violent death to the 
slow death of old age or disease are obviously as applicable 

1 See abore, vol. L p. 247 j^. ^ 



to common men as to the man-god. Thus the Mangaians 
think that " the spirits of those who die a natural death are 
excessively feeble and weak, as their bodies were at dissolu- 
tion ; whereas the spirits of those who are slain in battle are 
strong and vigorous, their bodies not having been reduced by 
disease." ^ The Barongo believe that in the world beyond 
the grave the spirits of their dead ancestors appear with the 
exact form and lineaments which their bodies exhibited at the 
moment of dissolution. The spirits are young or old accord- 
ing as iheir bodies were young or old when they died. There 

- are baby spirits who crawl about on all fours, and whose 
traces, according to legend, may be seen on the ground in 

"the sacred grove of Matolo. Hence, men sometimes prefer 
to kill themselves or to be killed before they grow feeble, in 
order that in the future life their souls may start fresh and 
vigorous as they left their bodies, instead of decrepit and worn 
out with age and disease. Thus in Fiji, "^ self-immolation is 
by no means rare, and they believe that as they leave this 
l|fe,l30 they will remain ever after. This forms a powerful 
motive to escape from decrepitude, or from a crippled 
condition, by a voluntary death." ' Or, as another observer 
of the Fijians puts it more fully, " the custom of voluntary 
suicide on the part of the old men, which is among their 
most extraordinary usages, is also connected with their 
superstitions respecting a future life. They believe that 
persons enter upon the delights of their elysium with the 
same faculties, mental and physical, that they possess at the 
hour of death, in short, that the spiritual life commences 
where the corporeal existence terminates. With these views, 
it is natural that they should desire to pass through this 
change before their mental and bodily powers are so enfeebled 
by age as to deprive them of their capacity for enjoyment. 
To this motive must be added the contempt which attaches 
to physical weakness among a nation of warriors, and the 
wrongs and insults which await those who are no longer 
able to protect themselves. W^hen therefore a man finds his 

> W. W. Gill, Myths and Son-s of = Ch. Wilkes, Narrative of the U.S. 

the South Panfiif \\ 163. Exphrint; Expedition (London, 1 845), 

* H. A. Junod, Ijcs Ba - ron^ iii. 96. 
(Neuchatd, 1S98), p. 381 sq. 



Strength declining with the advance of age, and feels that he 
will soon be unequal to discharge the duties of this life, and 
to partake in the pleasures of that which is to come, he calls ^ 
together his relations, and tells them that he is now worn ^ 
out and useless, that he sees they are all ashamed of him, 
and that he has determined to be buried." So on a day 
appointed they meet and bury him alive.^ In Vat^, one of 
the New Hebrides, the aged were buried alive at their own 
request It was considered a disgrace to the family of an ^ 

old chief if he was not buried alive.' Of the Kamants, a 
Jewish tribe in Abyssinia, it is reported that "they never let' 
a person die a natural death, but that if any of their relatives 
is nearly expiring, the priest of the village is called to cut 
his throat ; if this be omitted, they believe that the departed 
soul has not entered the mansions of the blessed." ^ 

But it is with the death of the god-man — the divine king ,: 
or priest — that we are here especially concerned. The ; 
people of Congo believed, as we have seen, that if their . ■ 
pontiff the Chitomd were to die a natural death, the world 
would perish, and the earth, which he alone sustained by his 
power and merit, would immediately be annihilated. Accord- 
ingly when he fell ill and seemed likely to die, the man who 
was destined to be his successor entered the pontiff's house 
with a rope or a club and strangled or clubbed him to < 
death.^ The Ethiopian kings of Meroe were worshipped as 
gods ; but whenever the priests chose, they sent a messenger, 
to the king, ordering him to die, and alleging an oracle of 
the gods as their authority for the command. This com- 
mand the kings always obeyed down to the reign of 
Ergamenes, a contemporary of Ptolemy II., King of Egypt. 
Having received a Greek education which emancipated him 
from the superstitions of his countrymen, Ergamenes ventured 
to disregard the command, of the priests, and, entering the 
Golden Temple with a body of soldiers, put the priests to 


> U,S. Exploritt}: Exptdiiiott^ Eth- ' Martin Flail, A SJUrt Detcrifiim 

iwlcgy aud Philolo^\ by H. Hale of the Falasha and Katmants in Ahys^ 

(Philadelphia, 1846), p. 65. Cp. Th. sinia^ p. 19. 
Williams, Fiji and the Fijians^ i. 1S3 ; 

}.'E,'ET%V\nt^JonrMaio/aCrnis€aHiofi/^ * J. B. Laluit, Rdation historiqut de 

the Islands of the IWsUrn Pacific lEthiopie occidenfalc^ i. 260 jy. ; W. 

(London, 1853), p. 248. Winwoo<l Rende, Sava,;;e Africa^ p. 

* Turner, Sawoa, \\ 335. 362. 


the sword.^ In the kingdom of Unyoro in Central Africa, 
' custom still requires that as soon as the king falls seriously 
ill or begins to break up from age, he shall be killed by his 
own wives ; for, according to an old prophecy, the throne 
will pass away from the dynasty if ever the king should 
die a natural death.^ When the king of Kibanga, on the 
Upper Congo, seems near his end, the sorcerers put a rope 
round his neck, which they draw gradually tighter till he 
dies.^ If the king of Gingero happens to be wounded in 
war, he is put to death by his comrades, or if they fail to 
kill him, by his kinsfolk, however hard he may beg for mercy. 
They say they do it that he may not die by the hands of his 
enemies.*^ It appears to have been a Zulu custom to put the 
l^ingjQ death as soon as he b^an to have wrinkles or gray 
hairs. At least this seems implied in the following passage, 
written by one who resided for some time at the court of the 
QOtorious Zulu tyrant Chaka, in the early part of the nineteenth 
century: "The extraordinary violence of the king's rage with 
me was mainly occasioned by that absurd nostrum, the hair 
oil, with the notion of which Mr. Farewell had impressed him 
as being a specific for removing all indications of age. From 
the first moment of his having heard that such a prepara- 
tion was attainable, he evinced a solicitude to procure it, and 
on every occasion never forgot to remind us of his anxiety 
respecting it ; more especially on our departure on the 
mission his injunctions were particularly directed to this 
6bject It will be .seen that it is one of the barbarous 
customs of the Zoolas in their choice or election of their 
kings that he must neither have wrinkles nor gray hairs, as 
they are both distinguishing marks of disqualification for 
becoming a monarch of a warlike people. It is also equally 
indispensable that their king should never exhibit those 
' proofs of having become unfit and incompetent to reign ; it 
is therefore important that they should conceal these indica- 

^ Diodorus Siculus, iii. 6 ; Strabo, Archh'io yv/- lo stmiio delU tradizhni 

xvii. 2. 3. pcpclariy vii. (iSSS), p. 231. 

* Emiit Aska in Central Afriia^ * The 'Jrair/s of the Jesuits in 
beini^ a Coileetion of his Letters and Ethiopia^ collected and historically 
Journals (London, 188S), p. 91. ' digested by F. Halthazar Telle/., of the 

* P. Guillem^, '•Credcnzc religiose Society of Jesus (London, 17 10), p. 
dei Negri di Kibanga nell* Alto Congo,** 1 97. 




tions so long as they possibly can. Chaka had become 
greatly apprehensive of the approach of gray hairs ; which 
would at once be the signal for him to prepare to make his 
exit from this sublunary world, it being always followed by 
the death of the monarch." ^ 

The custom of putting kings to death as soon as they 
suffered from any personal defect prevailed two centuries 
a^o in the CafTre kingdoms of Sofala, to the north of the 
present Zululand. These kings of Sofala, as we have seen,^ 
were regarded as gods by their people, being entreated to 
give rain or sunshine, according as each might be wanted. 
Nevertheless a slight bodily blemish, such as the loss of a 
tooth, was considered a sufficient cause for putting one of these 
god-men to death, as we learn from the following passage of an 
old historian. ' ** Contiguous to the domains of the Quiteva [the 
king of Sofala] are those of another prince called Sedanda. 
This prince becoming afflicted with leprosy, resolved on follow- 
ing implicitly the laws of the country, and poisoning himself, 
conceiving his malady to be incurable, or at least that it 
would render him so loathsome in the eyes of his people 
that they would with difficulty recognise him. In conse- 
quence he nominated his successor, holding as his opinion 
that sovereigns who should serve in all things as an example 
to their people ought to have no defect whatever, even in 
their persons ; that when any defects may chance to befall 
them they cease to be worthy of life and of governing their 
dominions ; and preferring death in compliance with this law 
to life, with the reproach of having been its violator. But 
this law was not observed with equal scrupulosity by one of the 
Quitevas, who, having lost a tooth and feeling no disposition 
to follow the practice of his predecessors, published to the 
people that he had lost a front tooth, in order that when 
they might behold, they yet might be able to recognise him ; 
declaring at the same time that he was resolved on living 
and reigning as long as he could, esteeming his existence 
requisite for the welfare of his subjects. He at the same 
time loudly condemned the practice of his predecessors, 
whom he taxed with imprudence, nay, even with madness, 

> Nathaniel Isaacs, Travels wtd 1836), i. 295 sq,^ q). pp. 232, 290 sq. 
Adi*enture$ ht Eastent Africa (IjoDid^fm^ * Above, vol. i. p. 155 17. 

i \ 




for having condemned themselves to death for casual 
accidents to their persons, confessing plainly that it would 
be with much regret, even when the course of nature should 
bring him to his end, that he should submit to die. He 
observed, moreover, that no reasonable being, much less a 
monarch, ought to anticipate the scythe of time; and, 
abrogating this mortal law, he ordained that all his 
successors, if sane, should follow the precedent he gave, and 
the new law established by him." ^ 

This King of Sofala was, therefore, a bold reformer like 
Ergamenes, King of Ethiopia. We may conjecture that the 
ground for putting the Ethiopian kings to death was, as in 
the case of the Zulu and Sofala kings, the appearance on 
their person of any bodily defect or sign of decay ; and that 
the oracle which the priests alleged as the authority for the 
royal execution was to the effect that great calamities would 
result from the reign of a king who had any blemish on his 
body ; just as an oracle warned Sparta against a ^ lame 
reign," that is, the reign of a lame king.* It is some 
confirmation of this conjecture that the kings of Ethiopia 
were chosen for their size, strength, and beauty long 
before the custom of killing them was abolished.' To 
this day the Sultan of Wadai must have no obvious bodily 
defect, and a king of Angoy cannot be crowned if he has a 
single blemish, such as a broken or a filed tooth or the scar 
of an old wound.^ It is only natural, therefore, to suppose, 
especially with the other African examples before us, that 
any bodily defect or symptom of old age appearing on the 

' Dos Santos, *' History of Extern 
Ethiopia ** (published at Paris in 1684), 
in Pinkerton's Voyages and TravelSy 
zvi. 684. 

^ Xenophon, HelUnica^ iii. 3. 3 ; 
Plutarch, Agtsilans^ 3 » ^t Lysa9tder^ 
22 ; Pausanias, iiL 8. 9. 

' Herodotus, iii. 20 ; Aristotle, Pofi- 
tics^ iv. 4. 4 ; Athenaeus, xiii. p. 566. 
According to Nicolaus Damascenus 
(/r. 142, in Fragm, Historii, Craicor, 
ed. C. Miiller, iiL p. 463), the hand- 
somest and bravest man was only raised 
to the throne when the king had no 
heirs, the heirs l>eing the sons of his 

sisters. But this limitation is not 
mentioned by the other authorities. 
The Alitemnian Libyans chose the 
fleetest runner to be their king. 
See Nicolaus Damascenus, Mirab, 38 
{Paradoxographi Cratci^ ed. Wester- 
mann, p. 175); Stobaeus, /7pn7(f^«m, 
xliv. 41 (vol. ii. p. 187, ed. Meineke). 
Among the Cjordioi the fattest man 
H-as chosen king ; among the Sjrrakoi, 
the tallest, or the man with the longest 
head (Zenobius, v. 25). 

^ G. Nachtigal, SaharA und SAdAn 
(Leipsic, 1889), iii. 225 ; Hastian, Die 
deutsche Expedition an tier Loango- 
h'iisfe^ i. 220. 




person of the Ethiopian monarch was the signal for his 
execution. At a later time it is recorded that if the Kingf 
of Ethiopia became maimed in any part of his body all his 
courtiers had to suffer the same mutilation.^ But this rule 
may perhaps have been instituted at the time when the 
custom of killing the king for any personal defect -was 
abolished ; instead of compelling the king to die beeause^ 
for example, he had lost a tooth, all his subjects would be 
obliged to lose a tooth, and thus the invidious superiority 
of the subjects over the king would be cancelled. A rule of 
this sort is still observed in the same region at the court of 
the Sultans of Darfur. When the Sultan coughs, every one - 
makes the sound ts ts hy striking the tongue against the 
root of the upper teeth ; when he sneezes, the whole aflKfldbty' 
utters a sound like the cry of the jeko ; whenlie falls off his 
horse, all his followers must fall off likewise ; if any one of 
them remains in the saddle, no matter how high his rank, he 
is laid on the ground and beaten.^ At the court of the 
king of Uganda in Central Africa, when the king latqglis, 
every one laughs ; when he sneezes, every one sneeaes ; 
when he has a cold, every one pretends to have a cold ; when 
he has his hair cut, so has everybody.' At the court of 
Boni in Celebes it is a rule that whatever the king does all the 
courtiers must do. If he stands, they stand ; if he sits, they 
sit ; if he falls off his horse, they fall off their horses ; if he 
bathes, they bathe, and passers-by must go into the water in 
the dress, good or bad, which they happen to have on.^ But 
to return to the death of the divine king. Many days' 
journey to the north-east of Abomey, the old capital of 
Dahomey, lies the kingdom of Eyeo. '* The Eyeos are 
governed by a king, no less absolute than the king of 







^ Strabo, xviL 2. 3 ; Diodonis, iii. 7. 

' Mohammed Ebn- Omar El-Tounsy, 
Voyage an Darfimr (Paris, 1845), P- 
162 sq, ; Travels of an Arab Merchant 
m Scitdan, abridged from the French 
by Bayle St John (London, 1854), p. 
78 ; Buiietin de la SocM tie Giofp^f^hie 
(Paris) I Vme Scrie, iv. ( 1852), p. 539 iy. 

> R. W. Felkin, "Notes on the 
Waganda Tribe of Central Africi/' in 
Pro€eedings of the Royal Society of Edin- 

burgh^ xiii. (1884-1886), p. 711. 

^ Narrative of Events in Borneo etnd 
Celebes^ from the foumal of^Jmmu 
Brooke^ £jy., Re^mk of SWiwiJ, by 
Capuin R. Mimdy, i. 154. Mj friend 
Mr. Lorimer FiMMi, in a letter of 
August 26th, 1898, tells me that the 
custom of foiling down whenever a 
chief fell was observed also in Fiji, 
where it had a special name, hale mttri, 
'» fall.follow." 


Dahomy, yet subject to a regulation of state, at once 
humiliating and extraordinary. When the people have con- 
ceived an opinion of his ill-government, which is sometimes 
insidiously infused into them by the artifice of his discon- 
tented ministers, they send a deputation to him with a 
present of parrots' eggs, as a mark of its authenticity, to 
represent to him that the burden of government must have 
50 far fatigued him that they consider it full time for him to 
repose from his cares and indulge himself with a little sleep. 
He thanks his subjects for their attention to his ease, retires 
to his own apartment as if to sleep, and there gives directions 
to his women to strangle him. This is immediately executed, 
and his son quietly ascends the throne upon the usual terms 
of holding the reins of government no longer than whilst 
he merits the approbation of the people." About the year 
1774, ^ ^^^S of Eyeo, whom his ministers attempted to 
remove in the customary manner, positively refused to 
accept the piofiered parrots' eggs at their hands, telling them 
that he had no mind to take a nap, but on the contrary was 
resolved to watch for the benefit of his subjects. The 
lm^%ters, surprised and indignant at his recalcitrancy, raised 
a rebellion, but were defeated with great slaughter, and thus 
by his spirited conduct the king freed himself from the 
tyranny of his councillors and established a new precedent 
for the guidance of his successors.^ The old Prussians 
acknowledged as their supreme lord a ruler who governed 
them in the name of the gods, and was known as God's 
Mouth {Kirwaidd), When he felt himself weak and ill, if 
he wished to leave a good name behind him, he had a great 
heap made of thorn-bushes and straw, on which he mounted 
and delivered a long sermon to the people, exhorting them to 
ser\'e the gods and promising to go to the gods and speak 
for the people. Then he took some of the perpetual fire 
which burned in front of the holy oak-tree, and lighting the 
pile mth it burned himself to dcath.- 

In the cases hitherto described, the divine king or priest 
is sufiered by his people to retain office until some outward 

' A. I)aUeI, History of Dahowy '^ Simon Gninau, Preussiuhe Chro- 

(London, 1793), pp. 12 /y., 15C sq, nik^ herausgegeben von VH. M. Perl- 

bach (Leipsic, 1876), L p. 97. 

14 KINGS KILLED chap, 


defect, some visible symptom of failing health or advancing 
age, warns them that he is no longer equal to the dischai^e 
of his divine duties ; but not until such symptoms have made 
their appearance is he put to death. Some peoples, how- 
ever, appear to have thought it unsafe to wait for even the | 
slightest symptom of decay and have preferred to kill the / 
king while he was still in the full vigour of life. Accordingly, i 
they have fixed a term beyond which he might not reign, ! 
and at the close of which he must die, the term fixed apon 
being short enough to exclude the probability of his de- ; ^ 
generating physically in the interval. In some parts of ' 
Southern India the period fixed was twelve years. Thus, 
according to an old traveller, in the province of Quilacare \ 
"there is a Gentile house of prayer, in which there is an 
idol which they hold in great account, and every twelve 
years they celebrate a great feast to it, whither all thi i 
Gentiles go as to. a jubilee. This temple possesses many x 
lands and much revenue ; it is a very great afiair. This \ 
province has a king over it ; who has not more than twelve j 
years to reign froni jubilee to jubilee. His manner of living is | 
in this wise, that is to say, when the twelve years are com- j 
pleted, on the day of this feast there assemble together innum- 
erable people, and much money is spent in giving food to 
Bramans. The king has a wooden scaffolding made, spread 
over with silken hangings ; and on that day he goes to bathe 
at a tank with great ceremonies and sound of music, after that 
he comes to the idol and prays to it, and mounts on to the 
scaffolding, and there before all the people he takes some 
very sharp knives and begins to cut off his nose, and then his 
ears and his lips and all his members and as much flesh of 
himself as he can ; and he throws it away very hurriedly 
until so much of his blood is spilled that he begins to fjaint, 
and then he cuts his throat himself. And he performs this 
sacrifice to the idol ; and whoever desires to reign other 
twelve years, and undertake this martyrdom for love of the 
idol, has to be present looking on at this ; and from that 
place they raise him up as king." ^ 

Formerly the Samorin or king of Calicut, on the 

* Barbosa, A Dexripiion of the the beginning of the Sixteenth Century 
Coasts of East Africa anJ Malabar in (flakluyt'Society, 1866), p. 172 sq. 


Malabar coast, had also to cut his throat in public at the 
end of a twelve years' reign. But towards the end of the 
seventeenth century the rule had been modified as follows : 
"A new custom is followed by the modern Samorins, that 
jubilee is proclaimed throughout his dominions, at the end 
of twelve years, and a tent is pitched for him in a spacious 
plain, and a great feast is celebrated for ten or twelve days, 
with mirth and jollity, guns firing night and day, so at the 
end of the feast any four of the guests that have a mind to 
gain a crown by a desperate action, in fighting their way 
through 30 or 40,000 of his guards, and kill the Samorin 
in his tent, he that kills him succeeds him in his empire. 
In anno 1695, one of those jubilees happened, and the tent 
pitched near Pennany, a seaport of his, about fifteen leagues 
to the southward of Calicut. There were but three men 
that would venture on that desperate action, who fell in 
with sword and target among the guard, and, after they had 
killed and wounded many, were themselves killed. One of 
the desperados had a nephew of fifteen or sixteen years of 
age, that kept close by his uncle in the attack on the guards, 
and, when he saw him fall, the youth got through the guards 
into the tent, and made a stroke at his Majesty's head, and 
had certainly despatched him if a large brass lamp which was 
burning over his head had not marred the blow ; but, before 
he could make another, he was killed by the guards ; and, 
I believe, the same Samorin reigns yet. I chanced to come 
that time along the coast and heard the guns for two or 
three days and nights successively." ^ 

" It is a singular custom in Bengal," says an old native 
historian of India, " that there is little of hereditary descent 
in succession to the sovereignty. There is a throne allotted 
for the king ; there is, in like manner, a seat or station 
assigned for each of the amirs^ wazirs^ and mansabdars. 
It is that throne and these stations alone which engage 
the reverence of the people of Bengal. A set of de- 
pendents, servants, and attendants are annexed to each of 
these situations. When the king wishes to dismiss or 
appoint any person, whosoever is placed in the seat of 

^ Alex. Hamilton, *' A New Account of the East Indies," in Pinkerton's 
Voyages and Travels^ viii. 374. 




the one dismissed is immediately attended and obeyed 
by the whole establishment of dependents, servants, and 
retainers annexed to the seat which he occupies. Nay, 
this rule obtains even as to the royal throne itself. Who- 
ever kills the king, and succeeds in placing himself on that 
throne, is immediately acknowledged as king ; all the amirs, 
wazirs, soldiers and peasants, instantly obey and submit to 
him, and consider him as being as much their sovereign as 
they did their former prince, and obey his orders implicitly. 
The people of Bengal say, ' We are faithful to the thfx>ne ; 
whoever fills the throne we are obedient and true to it' " ^ 
A custom of the same sort formerly prevailed in the little 
kingdom of Passier, on the northern coast of Sumatra. 
The old Portuguese historian De Barros, who informs us 
of it, remarks with surprise that no wise man would wish 
to be king of Passier, since the monarch was not allowed by 
his subjects to live long. From time to time a sort of fury 
seized the people, and they marched through the streets of 
the city chanting with loud voices the fatal words, ''The 
king must die ! " When the king heard that song of death 
he knew that his hour had come. The man who struck 
the fatal blow was of the royal lineage, and as soon as 
he had done the deed of blood and seated himself on 
the throne he was regarded as the Intimate king, provided 
that he contrived to maintain his seat peaceably for a single 
day. This, however, the regicide did not always succeed ^i 
doing. When FcmSo Peres d'Andrade, on a voyage to 
China, put in at Passier for a cargo of spices, two kings 
were massacred, and that in the most peaceable and orderly 
manner, without the smallest sign of tumult or sedition in 
the city, where everything went on in its usual course 
as if the murder or execution of a king were a matter 
of everyday occurrence. Indeed, on one occasion three 
kings were raised to the dangerous elevation and followed 
each other on the dusty road of death in a single day. The 
people defended the custom, which they esteemed very laud- 


» Sir H. M. Elliot, The History of 
hidia as told by its own Historians^ iv. 
260. I have to thank Mr. K. S. 
Whiteway, of Brownscombc, Shotter* 

mill, Surrey, for kindly calling niy 
attention to this and the following 
instance of the custom of regicide. 

1 1 1 KINGS KILLED 1 7 

able and even of divine institution, by saying that God would 
never allow so high and mighty a being as a king, who 
reigned as his vicegerent on earth, to perish by violence 
unless for his sins he thoroughly deserved it^ Far away 
from the tropical island of Sumatra a rule of the same sort 
appears to have obtained among the old Slavs. When the 
captives Gunn and Jarmerik contrived to slay the king and 
queen of the Slavs and made their escape, they were pursued 
by the barbarians, who shouted after them that if they would 
only come back they would reign instead of the murdered 
monarch, since by a public statute of the ancients the 
succession to the throne fell to the king's assassin. But 
the flying regicides turned a deaf ear to promises which 
they regarded as mere baits to lure them back to destruc- 
tion ; they continued their flight, and the shouts and clamour 
of the barbarians gradually died away in the distance.^ 

The famous traveller Ibn Batuta, a native of Tangier, 
who visited the East Indies in the first half of the fourteenth 
century, witnessed at the court of the heathen Sultan of Java 
an occurrence which filled him with astonishment He says : 
'' During my audience with the Sultan I saw a man who held 
in his hand a knife like that used by a grape-gleaner. He 
placed it on his own neck and spoke for a long time in a 
language which I did not understand. After that he seized 
the knife with both hands at once and cut his throat His 
head fell to the ground, so sharp was the blade and so great 
the force with which he used it I remained dumbfoundered 
at his behaviour, but the Sultan said to me, ' Does any one 
do like that in your country ? ' I answered, * Never did I 
see such a thing.' He smiled and replied, * These people 
are our slaves, and they kill themselves for love of us.* Then 
he commanded that they should take away him who had slain 
himself and should burn him. The Sultan's officers, the 
grandees, the troops, and the common people attended the 
cremation. The sovereign assigned a liberal pension to the 
children of the deceased, to his wife, and to his brothers ; and 

' De Barros, Da Asia^ dos feitos, ' Saxo Grammaticus, Historia 

que OS Portugiitzes fizeram no dcsaibri' Danua^ viii. p. 410 j^., ed. P. £. 

mento e conqtiista dos mares e terras do Miiller (p. 334 "of Mr. Elton's English 

Oriente^ Decada Terceira, Liv. V. cap. translation). 
L p. 512 j^. (Lisbon, 1777). 





they were highly honoured because of his conduct A person, 
who was present at the audience when the event I have 
described took place, informed me that the speech made by 
the man who sacrificed himself set forth his devotion to the 
monarch. He said that he wished to immolate himself out 
of affection for the sovereign, as his father had done for 
love of the prince's father, and as his grandfather had done 
out of regard for the prince's grandfather."^ We may 
conjecture that formerly the sultans of Java, like the kings of 
Quilacare and Calicut, were bound to cut their own throats 
at the end of a fixed term of years, but that at a later time 
they deputed the painful, though glorious, duty of dying for 
their country to the members of a certain family, who received * 
by way of recompense ample provision during their life and 
a handsome funeral at death. 

There are some grounds for believing that the reign of the 
ancient Dorian kings was limited to eight years, or at least 
that at the end of every period of eight years a new consecra- 
tion, a fresh outpouring of the divine grace, was regarded as 
necessary in order to enable them to dischai^e their civil and 
religious duties. For it was a rule of the Spartan constitution 
that every eighth year the ephors should choose a clear and - 
moonless night and sitting down observe the sky in silence. If . 
during their vigil they saw a meteor or shooting star, they 
inferred that the king had sinned against the deity, and sus- 
pended him from his functions until the Delphic or Olympic 
oracle should reinstate him in them. This custom, which has 
all the air of great antiquity, was not suffered to remain a dead 
letter even in the last period of the Spartan monarchy ; for in 
the third century before our era a king, who had rendered him- 
self obnoxious to the reforming party, was actually deposed 
on various trumped-up charges, among which the allegation 
that the ominous sign had been seen in the sky took a 
prominent place.* When we compare this custom, as K. O. 
Miiller suggested,' with the importance of the eight-years' 
cycle in early Greece, and with the Homeric reference to 
King Minos who reigned at Cnosus for periods of nine years 


' Voyage tTIbn Hatoutah^ texte Arabe, accompagn^ d*iiiie timdoctioii ptr 
C. DefTr^mery et B. K. Sanguinetti (Paris, 1853-58), hr. 246 sq, 
2 Pluurch, Agis, ii. » DU D^rUr^^ u. 96. 


as the friend of Zeus,^ we shall be disposed to concur in the 
opinion of the illustrious German scholar, whom I have just 
cited, that the quaint Spartan practice is much more than a 
mere antiquarian curiosity ; it is the attenuated survival of an 
institution which may once have had great significance, and 
it throws an important light on the restrictions and limita- 
tions anciently imposed by religion on the Dorian kingship. 
What exactly was the import of a meteor in the opinion of 
the old Dorians we can hardly hope to determine ; one 
thing, only is clear, they regarded it as a portent of so 
ominous and threatening a kind that its appearance under 
certain circumstances justified and even required the depo- 
sition of their king. This exaggerated dread of so simple 
a natural phenomenon is shared by many savages at the 
present day ; and we shall hardly err in supposing that the 
Spartans inherited it from their barbarous ancestors, who 
may have watched with consternation, on many a starry 
night among the woods of Germany, the flashing of a 
meteor through the sky. Shooting stars and meteors are 
viewed with apprehension by the natives of the Andaman 
Islands, who suppose them to be lighted faggots hurled into 
the air by the malignant spirit of the woods in order to 
ascertain the whereabouts of any unhappy wight in his 
vicinity. Hence' if they happen to be away from their 
camp wtTen the meteor is seen, they hide themselves and 
remain silent for a little before they venture to resume the 
work they were at ; for example, if they are out fishing 
they will crouch at the bottom of the boat.- When the 
Baronga of South Africa see a shooting star they spit on 
the ground to avert the evil omen, and cry, " Go away ! 
go away all alone ! " By this they mean that the light, 
which is so soon to disappear, is not to take them with it, 
but to go and die by itself." The Namaquas " are greatly 
afraid of the meteor which is vulgarly called a falling star, 

^ i^Ci 8* M Ki'wtf-it, fuyiXri v6\iSf in this passage. I accept K. O. 

fp$a re Mirwf Miiller's interpretation, which agrees 

6W«|pot pmr(Ktv€ Ai^ neySXov with that of the author of the dialogue 

impt^Hit. Minos (p. 319 D e) attributed to Plata 

Homer, Odyssey^ tix, 178 sg. There * E. Man, Alxfriginal Inhabitants 

is some difl^rence of opinion as to the 0/ the Andaman Islafids, p. 84 sq, 

exact meaning to be given to i¥¥ifapoi ' II. A. Junod, Les Ba-ron^u^ p. 470. 




for they consider it a sign that sickness is coming upon the 
cattle, and to escape it they will immediately drive them to 
some other parts of the country. They call out to the star 
how many cattle they have, and beg of it not to send sick- 
ness." ^ The Bechuanas are also much alarmed at the appear- 
ance of a meteor. If they happen to be dancing in the 
open air at the time, they will instantly desist and retire 
hastily to their huts.^ When the Laughlan Islanders see 
a shooting star they make a great noise, for they think it is 
the old woman who lives in the moon coming down to earth, 
to catch somebody who may relieve her of her duties in the 
moon while she goes away to the happy spirit-land.' In Vedic 
India a meteor was believed to be the incarnation of a demon, | 
and on its appearance certain hymns or incantations, supposed 
to possess the power of killing demons, were recited for the pur- 
pose of expiating the prodigy.* The aborigines of New South 
Wales attributed great importance to the falling of a star.^ 
Some of the Esthonians at the present day r^ard shooting 
stars as evil spirits.^ By some Indians of California meteors 
were called "children of the moon," and whenever young 
women saw one of them they fell to the ground and covered 
their heads, fearing that, if the meteor saw them, their faces ' 
would become ugly and diseased^ When a German traveller ' 
was living with the Bororos of Central Bi-azil, a splendid 
meteor fell, spreading dismay through the Indian village. 
It was believed to be the soul of a dead medicine-man, who 
suddenly appeared in this form to announce that he wanted 
meat, and that, as a preliminary measure, he proposed to 
visit somebody with an attack of dysentery. Its appearance 
was greeted with yells from a hundred throats ; men, women» 
and children swarmed out of their huts like ants whose nest 
has been disturbed ; and soon watch-fires blazed, round 

> J. Campbell, Travels in South 
Africa (London, 1815), p. 428 iq, 

* /<£, Travels in South Africa^ 
Second Journey (London, 1822), iL 

s W. Tetzlaff, ** Notes on the 
Laughlan Islands," in Annual Report 
on British Neio Guinea^ 1890-1891 
(Brisbane, 1892), p. 105. 

^ PI. Oldenberg, Die Religion des 
J'eda, p. 267. 

* D. Collins, Account of the English 
Colony in New South WetUs (London, 
1804), p. 383. 

• Holzmayer, "Osiliana," Verhand- 
lungen der gelehrten Estnischen Cesell- 
schaft %u Dorpat^ vii. (1872), p. 48. 

^ Boscana, * * Chinigchinich, a histori- 
cal account of the origin, et&, of the 
Indians of St Juan Capistrano,** in 
A. Kobinson*s Life in California (New 
York, 1846), p. 299. 





which at a little distance groups of dusky figures gathered, 
while in the middle, thrown into strong relief by the flicker- 
ing light of the fire, two red-painted sorcerers reeled and 
staggered in a state of frantic excitement, snorting and 
spitting towards the quarter of the sky where the meteor 
had run its brief but brilliant course. Pressing his right 
hand to his yelling mouth, each of them held aloft in his 
extended left, by way of propitiating the angry star, a 
bundle of cigarettes ! " There ! " they seemed to say, " all 
that tobacco will we give to ward off" the impending visita- 
tion. Woe to you, if you do not leave us in peace." ^ 

A widespread superstition associates meteors or falling 
stars with the souls of the dead. Often they are believed to 
be the spirits of the departed on their way to the other 
world. The Maoris imagine that at death the soul leaves 
the body and goes to the nether world in the form of a 
falling star.^ One evening when Mr. Howitt was talking 
with an Australian black, a bright meteor was seen shooting 
through the sky. The native watched it and remarked, 
"An old blackfellow has fallen down there."' Among 
the Yerrunthally tribe of Queensland the ideas on this 
subject were even more definite. They thought that after 
death they went to a place away among the stars, and that 
to reach it they had to climb up a rope ; when they had 
clambered up they let go the rope, which, as it fell from 
heaven, appeared to people on earth as a falling star.^ The 
Wa'mbugwe of Eastern Africa fancy that the stars are men, 
of whom one dies whenever a star is seen to fall.^ The 
Tinneh Indians and the Tchiglit Esquimaux of North- 
western America believe that human life on earth is 
influenced by the stars, and they take a shooting star 

* K. von den Steinen, UtUer den 
Nahtrvoikem Ztntral^ Brasiliensy p. 

514 J^. 

* Dieflenbach, Travels in Xe^u 
Zealand^ ii. 66. According to another 
account, meteors are regarded by the 
Maoris as betokening the presence of a 
god (R. Taylor, Te Ika a Afaut\ or 
New Zealand and its Inhabitants^ p. 

» A. W. Howitt, in Brough Smyth's 

Aborigines of Victoria^ ii. 309. 

* E. Palmer, "Notes on some 
Australian Tribes," Journal of the 
Anthrcpologictd Institute^ xiii. (1 884), 
p. 292. .Sometimes apparently the Aus- 
tralian natives regard crystals or broken 
glass as fallen stars, and treasure them 
as powerful instruments of magic See 
K. M. Curr, The Australian Kate^ iii. 

•'• O. Baumann, Durch Massailand 
ziir Xihtielle (Berlin, 1894), p. 188. 




to be a sign that some one has died.^ In classical 
antiquity there was a popular notion that every human 
being had his own star in the sky, which shone bright or [ 
dim according to his good or evil fortune, and fell in the f 
form of a meteor when he died.^ Ideas of the same sort \ 
are still commonly to be met with in Europe. Thus in ; 
some parts of Germany they say that at the birth of a 
man a new star is set in the sky, and that as it bums 
brilliantly or faintly he grows rich or poor ; finally when he i 
dies it drops from the sky in the likeness of a shooting j 
star.' Similarly in Brittany, Transylvania, Bohemia, the j 
Abruzzi, and the Esthonian island of Oesel it is thought : 
by some that every man has his own particular star in the ; 
sky, and that when it falls in the shape of a meteor he - 
expires.* In Styria they say that when a shooting star is : 
seen a man has just died, or a poor soul been released from j 
purgatory.* The Esthonians believe that if any one sees * 
a falling star on New Year's night he will die or be \ 
visited by a serious illness that year.^ In Belgium and 
many parts of France the people suppose that a meteor 
is a soul which has just quitted the body, sometimes 
that it is specially the soul of an unbaptized infant 
or of some one who has died without absolution. At 
sight of it they say that you should cross yourself and 

* E. Petitot, AUncgrapkie des Dini- 
Dindji (Paris, 1876), p. 60; id., 
MonographU des Esquimaux T(higlit 
(Paris, 1876), p. 24. 

« Pliny, Nat. HisL u. 28. 

' Panzer, Beitrag tur deutschen 
^fythologi€^ ii. 293; Kuhn und 
Schwartz, Norddeutscke Sagen, Miirchen 
und Gtbraucke^ p. 457, §422; £. Meier, 
Deutsche Sagsn^ Sitten und Gebrauche 
aus Sckwahen, p. 506, §§ 379, 380. 

* Sa>illot, Traditions et Super- 
stitions de Us Haute- Bretagne, ii. 
353 S J- Haltrich, Zur Voikskunde der 
Siebenbiirger Sachsen (Vienna, 1885), p. 
300 ; W. Schmidt, Dasjahr und seine 
Tage in Meinung und Brauek der 
Romiinen Siebenhiirgens, p. 38 ; £. 
Gerard, The Land beyond the Forest, 
i. 3 1 1 ; Grohmann, Aberglauben und 
Gebriiuehe aus Bohmen und Afdhren, 
P- 3if § 164; Br. JeHnek, « Material- 

ien zur Vorgeschichte und Voikskunde 
Bohmens," Mittheilungen deranthropo- 
hgischen Gesellschafi in Wien^' xzi. 
(1891), p. 25 ; G. Finamore, Credeme^ 
Usi e Costumi Abrutxesi, p. 47 sq, ; 
Holzmayer, ** Osiliana," Verhandl. der 
gelehrten Estnischett CeselUehcfi mu 
Dorpat, vii. (1 872), p. 48. The same 
belief is said to prevail in Armenia. 
See Minas Tch^raz, "Notes sur la 
Mythologie Arm^nienne," Transactions 
of the Ninth JntemeUional Congress of 
Orientalists (London, 1893), >^. 824. 
Bret Harte has employed the idea in 
his little poem, *' Relieving Guard.'* 

^ A. Schtossar, '* Volksmeinung nnd 
Volksaberglaube aus der deutschen 
Steiermark,** Cermania, N.R., xxiv. 

(i89i). p. 389. 

^ Boeder - Kreutzwald, Der Ehslen 

al»ergiaubis(he GebrHuche, fVeisen und 

GeriHfhnheiten, p. 73. 





pray, or that if you wish for something while the star 
is falling you will be sure to get it^ Among the Vosges 
Mountains in the warm nights of July it is not uncommon 
to see whole showers of shooting stars. It is generally 
agreed that these stars are souls, but some difference of 
opinion exists as to whether they are souls just taking leave 
of earth, or tortured by the fires of purgatory, or on their 
passage from purgatory to heaven.^ The downward direc- 
tion of their flight might naturally suggest a different goal ; 
and accordingly other people have seen in the transient 
flame of a meteor the descent of a soul from heaven to 
be born on earth. In the Punjaub, for example, Hindoos 
believe that the length of a soul's residence in the realms of 
bliss is exactly proportioned to the sums the man distributed 
in charity during his life ; and that when these are ex- 
hausted his time in heaven is up, and down he comes.' In 
Polynesia a shooting star was held to be the flight of a 
spirit, and to presage the birth of a great prince.^ The 
Mandans of North America fancied that the stars were dead 
people, and that when a woman was brought to bed a star 
fell from heaven, and entering into her was bom as a child.^ 
On the Biloch frontier of the Punjaub each man is held to 
have his star, and he may not journey in particular directions 
when his star is in certain positions. If duty compels him 
to travel in the forbidden direction, he takes care before 
setting out to bury his star, or rather a figure of it cut out 
of cloth, so that it may not see what he is doing.^ 

Which, if any, of these superstitions moved the barbarous 

* E. Monseur, Le Folklore Wallon^ 
p. 61 ; A. de Nore, Coutunus^ Mythes 
it Traditions des Provinus de France^ 
pp. 10 1, 160, 223, 267, 284 ; B. Souche, 
Croyanees ^presages ^ traditions diverse s^ 
p. 23 ; P. S^billot, Traditions et Super- 
stiticns de la Haute- Bretagne^ ii. 352 ; 
J. Lecceur, Esquisses du Socage Nor- 
mandy ii. 13 ; L. Pineau, Folk-lore 
du Poitcu (Paris, 1892), p. 525 sq, 

' L. F. Sauve, Le Folk-lore des 
Haates- Vosges^ p. 196 sq. In the 
Abnizzi also some people think that 
falling stars are souls on their way from 
purgatory, and on seeing one they say, 
** God be with 3rou.*' See G. Finamore, 

Credenze^ Usi e Costumi A^ruzzesi, 
p. 48. 

3 North Indian Notes and Queries^ 
i. p. 102, § 673. Compare id. p. 47, 
§ 356 ; Indian Notes and Queries^ iv. 
p. 184, § 674. 

* \V. Ellis, Polynesian Researches^ 
iii. 171. 

^ Maximilian Prinz zu Wied, Reise 
in das Innere Nord- America^ ii. 152. 
It does not, however, appear from the 
writer*s statement whether the descent 
of the soul was. identified with the 
flight of a meteor or not. 

• D. C J. Ibbctson, Outlines of 
Panjab Ethnography, p. 118, § 231. 




Dorians of old to depose their kings whenever at a certain 
season a meteor flamed in the sky, we cannot say. Perhaps 
they had a vag^e general notion that its appearance signified 
the dissatisfaction of the higher powers with the state of the 
commonwealth ; and since in primitive society the king is 
commonly held responsible for all untoward events, what- 
ever their origin, the natural course was to relieve him of 
duties which he had proved himself incapable of discharging. 
But it may be that the idea in the minds of these rude 
barbarians was more definite. Possibly, like some people in 
Europe at the present day, they thought that every man had 
his star in the sky, and that he must die when it fell. The 
king would be no exception to the rule, and on a certain night 
of a certain year, at the end of a cycle, it might be customary 
to watch the sky in order to mark whether the king's star 
was still in the ascendant or near its setting. The appear- 
ance of a meteor on such a night — of a star precipitated from 
the celestial vault — might prove for the king not merely a 
symbol but a sentence of death. It might be the warrant 
for his execution. 

In some places it appears that the people could not 
trust the king to remain in full bodily and mental vigour for 
more than a year ; hence at the end of a year's reig^ he was 
put to death, and a new king appointed to reig^ in his turn 
a year, and suffer death at the end of it At least this is the 
conclusion to which the following evidence points. Accord- 
ing to the historian Berosus, who as a Babylonian priest 
spoke with ample knowledge, there was annually celebrated 
in Babylon a festival called the Sacaea. It began on the 
sixteenth day of the month Lous, and lasted for five days. 
During these five days masters and servants changed places, 
the servants giving orders and the masters obeying them. 
A prisoner condemned to death was dressed in the king's 
robes, seated on the king's throne, allowed to issue whatever 
commands he pleased, to eat, drink, and enjoy himself, and 
to lie with the king's concubines. But at the end of the 
five days he was stripped of his royal robes, scourged, and 
hanged or crucified.^ This custom might perhaps have been 

^ Athenaeus, xiv. p. 639 c ; Dio p. 76, ed. Dindorf). Dio Chrysostom 
Chiysostom, Orat» !▼. p. 69 sq, (vol. L does not mention his authority, but it 

I t 




explained as merely a grim jest perpetrated in a season of 
jollity at the expense of an unhappy criminal. But one 
circumstance — the leave given to the mock king to enjoy 
the king's concubines — is decisive against this interpretation. 
Considering the jealous seclusion of an oriental despot's 
harem we may be quite certain that permission to invade it 
would never have been granted by the despot, least of all to a 
condemned criminal, except for the very gravest cause. This 
cause could hardly be other than that the condemned man 
was about to die in the king's stead, and that to make the 
substitution perfect it was necessary he should enjoy the full 
rights of royalty during his brief reign. There is nothing 
surprising in this substitution. The rule that the king must 
be put to death either on the appearance of any symptom 
of bodily decay or at the end of a fixed period is certainly one 
which, sooner or later, the kings would seek to abolish or 
modify. We have seen that in Ethiopia, Sofala, and Eyeo the 
rule was boldly set aside by enlightened monarchs ; and that 
in Calicut the old custom of killing the king at the end of 
twelve years was changed into a permission granted to any 
one at the end of the twelve years' period to attack the 
king, and, in the event of killing him, to reign in his stead ; 
though, as the king took care at these times to be surrounded 
by his guards, the permission was little more than a form. 
Another way of modifying the stem old rule is seen in the 

was probably either Berosus or Ctesias. 
The execution of the mock king is not 
noticed in the passage of Berosus cited 
by Athenaeus, probably because the 
mention of it was not germane to 
Athenaeus's purpose, which was simply 
to give a list of festivals at which mas> 
ters waited on their ser\'ants. That the 
^iar^mfl was put to death is further 
shown by Macrubius, Sat, iii. 7. 6, 
** Amnios vero sacrtUorum komifium 
quos f za9tas Craeci vacant^ dis debiias 
iUsHmal>aniy** where for ta»tas wc should 
probably read i*afy&pat with Liebrecht, 
in Pkilohgus, xxii. 710, and Bachofen, 
Die Sa/^ fOH Tatiaquil^ p. 52, note 
16. llie reading tanas is, however, 
defended by J. Bemays {HermtSy ix. 
(1875) 127 x^.)» who suggests that 
^Iacrobius mny have misunderstood the 

meaning of the Zanes at Olympia, as 
to which see Pausanias, v. 21. 2. The 
Babylonian custom, so far as appears 
from our authorities, does not date 
from before the Persian conquest of 
Babylon ; but probably it was much 
older. In the passage of Dio Chry- 
sostom €Kp4fM(rap should perhai^s be 
translated ** crucified " (or ** impaled ") 
rather than ** hanged"; at least the 
former seems to have been the regular 
sense of xpffidrvvfii as applied to 
executions. See Plutarch, Catsar^ 2. 
But while crucifixion was a Roman 
mode of execution, it may be doubted 
whether it was also an Oriental one. 
Hanging was certainly an Oriental 
punishment. See Esther v. 14, vii. 9 
sq..; Deuteronomy xxi. 22 /y. ; Joshua 
viiL 29, X. 26. 




Babylonian custom just described. When the time drew 
near for the king to be put to death (in Babylon this 
appears to have been at the end of a single year's reign) he 
abdicated for a few days, during which a temporary king 
reigned and suffered in his stead. At first the temporary 
king may have been an innocent person, possibly a member 
of the king's own family ; but with the growth of civilisation 
the sacrifice of an innocent person would be revolting to the 
public sentiment, and accordingly a condemned criminal 
would be invested with the brief and fatal sovereignty. In 
the sequel we shall find other examples of a dying criminal 
representing a dying god. For we must not forget that the 
king is slain in his character of a god, his death and resur- 
rection, as the only means of perpetuating the divine life 
unimpaired, being deemed necessary for the salvation of his 
people and the world. 

The conclusion to which the Babylonian evidence seems 
to point will hardly appear extravagant or improbable when 
we learn that at the end of the nineteenth century there is 
still a kingdom in which the reign and the life of the 
sovereign are limited to a single day. In Ngoio, a province 
of the ancient kingdom of Congo in West Africa, the rule 
obtains that the chief who assumes the cap of sovereignty 
one day shall be put to death on the next The right of 
succession lies with the chief of the Musurongo ; but we 
need not wonder that he does not exercise it, and that the 
throne stands vacant. " No one likes to lose his life for a 
few hours' glory on the Ngoio throne." ^ 

In some places the modified form of the old custom 
which appears to have prevailed at Babylon has been further 
softened down. The king still abdicates annually for a 
short time and his place is filled by a more or less nominal 
sovereign ; but at the close of his short reign the latter is 
no longer killed, though sometimes a mock execution still 
survives as a memorial of the time when he was actually 
put to death. To take examples. In the month of M^ac 

^ R. E. Dennett, Notes on the Folk- cular custom, and informed me that she 

lore of the Fjort^ with an introduction was personally acquainted with the chief 

by Mary H. Kin(;sley (London, 1898), who possesses but declines to exercise 

p. xxxii. Miss Kingsley in conversa- the right of succession, 
tion called my attention to this parti- 



(February) the King of Cambodia annually abdicated for 
three days. During this time he performed no act of 
; authority, he did not touch the seals, he did not even receive 

I the revenues which fell due. In his stead there reigned a 

! temporary king called Sdach M^ac, that is, King February. 

i The office of temporary king was hereditary in a family 

distantly connected with the royal house, the sons succeed- 
ing the fathers and the younger brothers the elder brothers, 
just as in the succession to the real sovereignty. On a 
favourable day fixed by the astrologers the temporary king 
was conducted by the mandarins in triumphal procession. 
He rode one of the royal elephants, seated in the royal 
palanquin, and escorted by soldiers who, dressed in 
appropriate costumes, represented the neighbouring peoples 
of Siam, Annam, Laos, and so on. In place of the golden 
crown he wore a peaked white cap, and his regalia, instead 
of being of gold encrusted with diamonds, were of rough 
wood. After paying homage to the real king, from whom 
he received the sovereignty for three days, together with all 
the revenues accruing during that time (though this last 
custom has been omitted for some time), he moved in 
procession round the palace and through the streets of the 
capital. On the third day, after the usual procession, the 
temporary king gave orders that the elephants should 
trample under foot the "mountain of rice," which was a 
scaffold of bamboo surrounded by sheaves of rice. The 
people gathered up the rice, each man taking home a little 
with him to secure a good harvest Some of it was also 
taken to the king, who had it cooked and presented to the 

In Siam on the sixth day of the moon in the sixth 
month (the end of April) a temporary king is appointed, 
who for three days enjoys the royal prerogatives, the real 
king remaining shut up in his palace. This temporary king 
sends his numerous satellites in all directions to seize and 
confiscate whatever they can find in the bazaar and open 
shops ; even the ships and junks which arrive in harbour 

* E. Aymonier, Notice siir U Cam- of the temporary king's family with the 
badge^ p. 61 ; J. Moura, Le Koyaumedti xoysX house, see Aymonier, op, cit, p. 
Cambodge^ i. 327 jy. For the connection 36 sq. 




during the three days are forfeited to him and must be 
redeemed. He goes to a field in the middle of the city, 
whither they bring a gilded plough drawn by gaily-decked 
oxen. After the plough has been anointed and the oxen 
rubbed with incense, the mock king traces nine furrows with 
the plough, followed by aged dames of the palace scattering 
the first seed of the season. As soon as the nine furrows 
are drawn, the crowd of spectators rushes in and scrambles 
for the seed which has just been sown, believing that, mixed 
with the seed-rice, it will ensure a plentiful crop. Then the 
oxen are unyoked, and rice, maize, sesame, sago, bananas, 
sugar-cane, melons, and so on, are set before them ; whatever 
they eat first will, it is thought, be dear in the year following, 
though some people interpret the omen in the opposite sense. 
During this time the temporary king stands leaning against 
a tree with his right foot resting on his left knee. From 
standing thus on one foot he is popularly known as King 
Hop ; but his official title is Phaya Phollathep, " Lx)rd of 
the Heavenly Hosts." ^ He is a sort of Minister of Agri- 
culture ; all disputes about fields, rice, and so forth, are referred 
to him. There is moreover another ceremony in which he 
personates the king. It takes place in the second month 
(which falls in the cold season) and lasts three days. He is 
conducted in procession to an open place opposite the 
Temple of the Brahmans, where there are a number of 
poles dressed like May-poles, upon which the Brahmans 
swing. All the while that they swing and dance, the Lord 
of the Heavenly Hosts has to stand on one foot upon a seat 
which is made of bricks plastered over, covered with a white 
cloth, and hung with tapestry. He is supported by a 
wooden frame with a gilt canopy, and two Brahmans stand 
one on each side of him. The dancing Brahmans carry 


' Pkllegoix, Descripiion du Koyaumc 
Thai ou Siam^ L 250 ; Bastian, Die 
Volker des ostlichen Asien, tii. 305-309, 
526-528 ; Turpin, History 0/ Siam^ in 
Pinkeitoo's Voyages and Travels, ix. 
581 sq, Bowring {Siam, i. 158 sq,) 
copies, as usaal, from Pallegoix. For a 
description of the ceremony as obsen-ed 
at the present day, see £. Youn{;, 7^e 
Kingdom of the Yellow Robe (West- 

minster, 1898), p. 2101^. The repre- 
sentative of the king no longer enjoys 
his old privilege of seizing any goods 
that are exposed for sale along the line 
of the procession. According to Mr. 
Young, the ceremony is generally held 
about the middle of May, and no one 
is supposed to plough or sow till it is 

Ill IN SIAM 29 

I bufTalo horns with which they draw water from a large 
•; copper caldron and sprinkle it on the spectators ; this is 
supposed to bring good luck, causing the people to dwell in 
peace and quiet, health and prosperity. The time during 
which the Lx)rd of the Heavenly Hosts has to stand on one 
foot is about three hours. This is thought "to prove the 
dispositions of the Devattas and spirits." If he lets his foot 
down " he is liable to forfeit his property and have his family 
enslaved by the king ; as it is believed to be a bad omen, 
portending destruction to the state, and instability to the 
throne. But if he stand firm he is believed to have gained 
a victory over evil spirits, and he has moreover the privilege, 
ostensibly at least, of seizing any ship which may enter the 
harbour during these three days, and taking its contents, and 
also of entering any open shop in the town and carrying 
away what he chooses." ^ 

Such were the duties and privileges of the Siamese King 
Hop some forty or fifty years ago. Under the reig^ of the 
present enlightened monarch this quaint personage has been 
to some extent both shorn of the glories and relieved of the 
burden of his office. He still watches, as of old, the 
Brahmans rushing through the air in a swing suspended 
between two tall masts, each some ninety feet high ; but he 
is allowed to sit instead of stand, and, although public 
opinion still expects him to keep his right foot on his left 
knee during the whole of the ceremony, he would incur no 
legal penalty were he, to the great chagrin of the people, to 
put his weary foot to the ground. Other signs, too, tell 
of the invasion of the East by the ideas and civilisation of 
the West. The thoroughfares that lead to the scene of the 
performance are blocked with carriages ; lamp-posts and 
telegraph posts, to which eager spectators cling like 
monkeys, rise above the dense crowd ; and, while a tatter- 
demalion band of the old style, in gaudy garb of vermilion 
and yellow, bangs and tootles away on drums and trumpets 
of an antique pattern, the procession of barefooted soldiers 
in brilliant uniforms steps briskly along to the lively strains 

* Lieut. -Col. James Low, "On the pore, 1847), p. 339; Y^aaMvua^DieVblker 
Laws of Muung Thai or Siam," y<w/r- des ostlichen Asien^ iii. 98, 314, $26 
nal of the Indian Archipelago^ i. (Singa- sq. 



of a modern military band playing " Marching through 
Georgia." ^ 

In Upper Egypt on the first day of the solar year by 
Coptic reckoning, that is, on the tenth of September, when 
the Nile has generally reached its highest point, the regular 
government is suspended for three days and every town 
chooses its own ruler. This temporary lord wears a sort of 
tall fool's cap and a long flaxen beard, and is enveloped in a 
strange mantle. With a wand of office in his hand and 
attended by men disguised as scribes, executioners, and so 
forth, he proceeds to the Governor's house. The latter { 
allows himself to be deposed ; and the mock king, mounting | 
the throne, holds a tribunal, to the decisions of which even ! 
the governor and his officials must bow. After three days J 
the mock king is condemned to death ; the envelope or 
shell in which he was encased is committed to the flames, 
and from its ashes the Fellah creeps forth.* ' 

Sometimes the temporary king occupies the throne, not [ 
annually, but once for all at the beginning of each reig^n. f 
Thus in the kingdom of Jambi, in Sumatra, it is the custom j 
that at the beginning of a new reign a man of the people 
should occupy the throne and exercise the royal prerogatives 
for a single day. The origin of the custom is explained by 
a tradition that there were once five royal brothers, the four 
elder of whom all declined the throne on the ground of 
various bodily defects, leaving it to their youngest brother. 
But the eldest occupied the throne for one day, and reserved 
for his descendants a similar privilege at the beginning of 
every reign. Thus the office of temporary king is hereditary 
in a family akin to the royal house.^ In Bilaspur it seems 
to be the custom, after the death of a Rajah, for a Brahman 
to eat rice out of the dead Rajah's hand, and then to 
occupy the throne for a year. At the end of the year the 
Brahman receives presents and is dismissed from the 

1 £. Young, TIU Kimgdom of the < C B. Klunxinger, BiUer out 

Yellow ^0^,^1^212-21^, The writer Oherdgypten, der Wiiste und dim 

tells us that though the Minister for Rothen Metre^ p. \%o sq. 
Agriculture still officiates at the Plough- 
ing Festival, he no longer presides at ' J. W. Boers, *' Oud volksgebniik 

the Swinging Festival ; a different in het Rijk van Jambi,** Tijdsckrift voor 

nobleman is chosen every year to NehrUmds Indiiy 1840, dl. i. p. 372 
superintend the latter. . sqq. 

f \ 


territory, being forbidden apparently to return. " The idea 
seems to be that the spirit of the Rdj4 enters into the 
Brdhman who eats the khir (rice and milk) out of his hand 
when he is dead, as the Brahman is apparently carefully 
watched during the whole year, and not allowed to go 
away." The same or a similar custom is believed to obtain 
among the hill states about Kangra.^ At the installation 
of a prince of Carinthia a peasant, in whose family the 
office was hereditary, ascended a marble stone which stood 
surrounded by meadows in a spacious valley ; on his right 
stood a black mother-cow, on his left a lean ugly mare. A 
rustic crowd gathered about him. Then the future prince, 
dressed as a peasant and carrying a shepherd's staff, drew 
near, attended by courtiers and magistrates. On perceiving 
him the peasant called out, '*Who is this whom I see 
coming so proudly along } " The people answered, " The 
prince of the land." The peasant was then prevailed on to 
surrender the marble seat to the prince on condition of 
receiving sixty pence, the cow and mare, and exemption 
from taxes. But before yielding his place he gave the 
prince a light blow on the cheek.* 

Some points about these temporary kings deserve to 
be specially noticed before we pass to the next branch of 
the evidence. In the first place, the Cambodian and 
Siamese examples show clearly that it is especially the 
divine or magical functions of the king which are trans- 
ferred to his temporary substitute. This appears from the 
belief that by keeping up his foot the temporary king of 
Siam gained a victory over the evil spirits ; whereas by 
letting it down he imperilled the existence of the state. 
Again, the Cambodian ceremony of trampling down the 
" mountain of rice," and the Siamese ceremony of opening 
the ploughing and sowing, are charms to produce a plentiful 
harvest, as appears from the belief that those who carry 
home some of the trampled rice or of the seed sown will 
thereby secure a good crop. Moreover, when the Siamese 

^ Panjah Notes and Queries^ i. p. 86, /^C^-ft ^ ritus omnium ge»tiium (Lyons, 
§ 674. I54l)t P' 244 sq. ; Grimm, Deutsche 

KechtscUterthumer^ p. 253. According 

^Aeneas Sylvius, Opera (Hdle, toGrimm.thecowand mare stood beside 
1 57 1), p. 409 sq, \^. Boemus, Mores ^ the prince, not the peasant. 




representative of the king is guiding the plough, the people 
watch him anxiously, not to see whether he drives a straight 
furrow, but to mark the exact point on his leg to which the 
skirt of his silken robe reaches ; for on that is supposed to 
hang the state of the weather and the crops during the 
ensuing season. If the Lord of the Heavenly Hosts hitches 
up his garment above his knee, the weather will be wet and 
the heavy rains will spoil the harvest. If he lets it trail 
to his ankle a drought will be the consequence. But fine 
weather and heavy crops will follow if the hem of his robe 
hangs exactly half-way down the calf of his leg.* So closely 
is the course of nature, and with it the weal or woe of the 
people, dependent on the minutest act or gesture of the 
king's representative. But the task of making the crops 
grow, thus deputed to the temporary kings, is one of the 
magical functions regularly supposed to be discharged by 
kings in primitive society. The rule that the mock king 
must stand on one foot upon a raised seat in the rice-field 
was perhaps originally meant as a charm to make the crop 
grow high ; at least this was the object of a similar 
ceremony observed by the old Prussians. The tallest girl, 
standing on one foot upon a seat, with her lap full of cakes, 
a cup of brandy in her right hand and a piece of elm-bark 
or linden-bark in her left, prayed to the god Waizganthos 
that the flax might grow as high as she was standing. 
Then, after draining the cup, she had it refilled, and 
poured the brandy on the ground as an offering to Waiz- 
ganthos, and threw down the cakes for his attendant sprites. 
If she remained steady on one foot throughout the cere- 
mony, it was an omen that the flax crop would be good ; 
but if she let her foot down, it was feared that the crop 
might fail.' The same significance perhaps attaches to the 

i ■ 

^ £. Yoang, The Kitigdom of the 
Yellow Robe ^ p. 211. 

' Lasicias, *'De diis Samagitanun 
caeterorumque Sannatarum," in Res- 
publiea sive Status Re^ni Poloniae^ 
Utuaniae^ Prussiae, Lrvoniae^ etc. 
(Elzevir, 1627), p. 306 sq. ; /V/., edited 
by \V. Mannhardt in Magazin heraus- 
ge^eben vo»i der iMtiseh'Uterdriscktn 

Geselluha/t, xiv. 91 1^.; J. G. Kohl, 
Die deutsch'russischen Ostseeproinntm ^ 
ii. 27. There are, however, other 
occasions when superstition requires a 
person to stand on one foot. At Toku- 
toka, in Fiji, the grave-digger who 
turns the first sod has to stand on one 
leg, leaning on his digging stick (Kev. 
Lorinier Fison, in a letter to the author, 
dated August 26tfa, 1898). 


swinging of the Brahmans, which the Lord of the Heavenly 
Hosts had formerly to witness standing on one foot. On 
the principles of sympathetic or imitative magic it might 
be thought that the higher the priests swing the higher will 
grow the rice. For the ceremony is described as a harvest 
festival,^ and swinging is practised by the Letts of Russia 
with the avowed intention of influencing the growth of the 
crops. In the spring and early summer, between Easter 
and St John's Day (the summer solstice), every Lettish 
peasant is said to devote his leisure hours to swinging 
diligently ; for the higher he rises in the air the higher will 
his flax grow that season.* The gilded plough with which 
the Siamese mock king opens the ploughing may be com- 
pared with the bronze ploughs which the Etruscans em- 
ployed at. the ceremony of founding cities ; ' in both cases 
the use of iron was probably forbidden on superstitious 

Another point to notice about these temporary kings is 
that in two places (Cambodia and Jambi) they come of a 
stock which is believed to be akin to the royal family. If 
the view here taken of the origin of these temporary 
kingships is correct, we can easily understand why the 
king's substitute should sometimes be of the same race as 
the king. When the king first succeeded in getting the 
life of another accepted as a sacrifice instead of his own, he 
would have to show that the death of that other would 
serve the purpose quite as well as his own would have done. 
Now it was as a god that the king had to die ; therefore 
the substitute who died for him had to be invested, at least 
for the occasion, with the divine attributes of the king. 
This, as we have just seen, was certainly the case with the 
temporary kings of Siam and Cambodia ; they were in- 
vested with the supernatural functions, which in an earlier 
stage of society were the special attributes of the king. 
But no one could so well represent the king in his divine 

* K. Voung, The Kingdom of the For olher charms to make the crops 
Yellow Robty p. 212. grow tall by leaping, letting the hair 

* J. G. Kohl, Die deulsch-russischen hang loose, and so forth, sec above, 
Ostseeftroi-inzen^ ii. 25. With regard to vol. i, p. 35 sqq. 

swinging as a magical or religious rite ' Macrobius, Saturn, v. 19. 13. 

Note A at the end of the volume. * See above, vol. i. p. 344 f*/^. 





character as his son, who might be supposed to share the 
divine afflatus of his father. No one, therefore, could so 
appropriately die for the king and, through him, for the 
whole people, as the king's son. 

In ancient Greece there seems to have been at least 
one kingly house of great antiquity of which the eldest sons 
were always liable to be sacrificed in room of their royal 
sires. When Xerxes was marching through Thessaly at 
the head of his mighty host to attack the Spartans at 
Thermopylae, he came to the town of Alus. Here he was 
shown the sanctuary of Laphystian Zeus, about which his 
guides told him a strange tale. It ran somewhat as follows. 
Once upon a time the king of the country, by name 
Athamas, married a wife Nephele, and had by her a son 
called Phrixus and a daughter named Helle. Afterwards 
he took to himself a second wife called Ino, by whom he 
had two sons, Learchus and Melicertes. But his second 
wife was jealous of her step-children, Phrixus and Helle, and 
plotted their death. She went about very cunningly to 
compass her bad end. First of all she persuaded the women 
of the country to roast the seed com secretly before it was 
committed to the ground. So next year no crops came 
up and the people died of famine. Then the king sent 
messengers to the oracle at Delphi to inquire the cause 
of the dearth. But the wicked step- mother bribed the 
messenger to give out as the answer of the god that the 
dearth would never cease till the children of Athamas 
by his first wife had been sacrificed to Zeus. When 
Athamas heard that, he sent for the children, who were 
with the sheep. But a ram with a fleece of gold opened his 
lips, and speaking with the voice of a man warned the 
children of their danger. So they mounted the ram and 
fled with him over land and sea. As they flew over the 
sea, the girl slipped from the animal's back, and falling into 
water was drowned. But her brother Phrixus was brought 
safe to the land of Colchis, where reigned a child of the 
Sun. Phrixus married the king's daughter, and she bore 
him a son Cytisorus. And there he sacrificed the ram with 
the golden fleece to Zeus the God of Flight ; but some will 
have it that he sacrificed the animal to Laphystian Zeus. 





The golden fleece itself he gave to his wife's father, who 
nailed it to an oak tree, guarded by a sleepless dragon in 
a sacred grove of Ares. Meanwhile at home an oracle had 
commanded that King Athamas himself should be sacrificed 
as an expiatory offering for the whole country. So the 
people decked him with garlands like a victim and led him 
to the altar, where they were just about to sacrifice him 
when he was rescued either by his grandson Cytisorus, who 
arrived in the nick of time from Colchis, or by Hercules, 
who brought tidings that the king's son Phrixus was yet 
alive. Thus Athamas was saved, but afterwards he went 
mad, and mistaking his son Learchus for a wild beast shot 
him dead. Next he attempted the life of his remaining son 
Melicertes, but the child was rescued by his mother Ino, 
who ran and threw herself and him from a high rock into 
the sea. Mother and son were changed into marine 
divinities, and the son received special homage in the isle 
of Tenedos, where babes were sacrificed to him. Thus 
bereft of wife and children the unhappy Athamas quitted his 
country, and on inquiring of the oracle where he should 
dwell was told to take up his abode wherever he should be 
entertained by wild beasts. He fell in with a pack of 
wolves devouring sheep, and when they saw him they fled 
and left him the bleeding remnants of their prey. In this 
way the oracle was fulfilled. But because King Athamas 
had not been sacrificed as a sin-offering for the whole 
country, it was divinely decreed that the eldest male scion 
of his family in each generation should be sacrificed without 
fail, if ever he set foot in the town-hall, where the offerings 
were made to Laphystian Zeus by one of the house of 
Athamas. Many of the family, Xerxes was informed, had 
fled to foreign lands to escape this doom ; but some of them 
had returned long afterwards, and being caught by the 
sentinels in the act of entering the town-hall were wreathed 
as victims, led forth in procession, and sacrificed.^ These 

' Hercxlotus, vii. 197 ; ApoUodorus, Odyssiy^ v. 339, p. 1543 ; Pausanias, i. 

i. 9. 1-3; Schol. on Aristophanes, Clouds^ 44. 7, ix. 34. 7 ; Zcnobius, iv. 38 ; Plu- 

257 ; Tzctzcs, Schol. on Lycophron^ larch, D€Sii/icrsfi/ioN€f$;liygiTiuSt/''a/>. 

21, 229; Schol. on ApolloniusKbodius, i>5; iV/., Jstronomiia, ii. 20; Servius, 

Ar^nauticOy ii. 653 ; Eustathius, on on Virgil, Am. v. 241. The story is 

Homer, Iliad^ vii. 86, p. 667 ; i</., on told or alluded to by these writers 




instances appear to have been notorious, if not frequent ; 
for the writer of a dialogue attributed to Plato, after speaking 
of the immolation of human victims by the Carthaginians, 
adds that such practices were not unknown among the 
Greeks, and he refers with horror to the sacrifices offered on 
Mount Lycaeus and by the descendants of Athamas.^ 

The suspicion that this barbarous custom by no means 
fell into disuse even in later days is strengthened by a case 
of human sacrifice which occurred in Plutarch's time at 
Orchomenus, a very ancient city of Boeotia, distant only a 
few miles across the plain from the historian's birthplace. 
Here dwelt a family of which the men went by the name of 
Psoloeis or " sooty," and the women by the name of Oleae 
or " destructive." Every year at the festival of the Agrionia 
the priest of Dionysus pursued these women with a drawn 
sword, and if he overtook one of them he had the right to 
slay her. In Plutarch's lifetime the right was actually 
exercised by a priest Zoilus. Now the family thus liable 
to furnish at least one human victim every year was of 
royal descent, for they traced their lineage to Minyas, the 
fameus old king of Orchomenus, the monarch of fabulous 
wealth, whose stately treasury, as it is called, still stands in 
ruins at the point where the long rocky hill of Orchomenus 
melts into the vast level expanse of the Copaic plain. 
Tradition ran that the king's three daughters long despised 
the other women of the country for yielding to the Bacchic 
frenzy, and sat at home in the king's house scornfully plying 
the distaff and the loom, while the rest, wreathed with 
flowers, their dishevelled locks streaming to the wind, roamed 
in ecstasy the barren mountains that rise above Orchomenus, 
making the solitudes of the hills to echo to the wild music 
of cymbals and tambourines. But in time the divine fury 
infected even the royal damsels in their quiet chamber ; 
they were seized with a fierce longing to partake of human 

with some variations of detail. In 
piecing their accounts together I have 
chosen the features which seemed to 
he the. moNt archaic According to 
Ilierecy-des, one of the oldest writers 
on Greek legendary' history, Phrixus 
offered himself as a voluntary victim 

when the crops were perishing (Schol. 
on Pindar. Pyth. iv. 288). On the 
whole subject see K. O. Miiller, 
OrckomemtiS und die Minytr^ pp. 1 56^ 

* Plato, Minos ^ p. 315 C, 




> flesh, and cast lots among themselves which should give up 

her child to furnish a cannibal feast. The lot fell on 

; Leucippe, and she surrendered her son Hippasus, who was 

torn limb from limb by the three. From these misguided 
women sprang the Oleae and the Psoloeis, of whom the 
men were said to be so called because they wore sad- 
coloured raiment in token of their mourning and grief.* 

Now this practice of taking human victims from a 
family of royal descent at Orchomenus is all the more 
significant because Athamas himself is said to have 
reigned in the land of Orchomenus even before the time of 
Minyas, and because over against the city there rises 
Mount Laphystius, on which, as at Alus in Thessaly, there 
was a sanctuary of Laphystian Zeus, where, according to 
tradition, Athamas purposed to sacrifice his two children 
Phrixus and Helle.* On the whole, comparing the tradi- 
tions about Athamas with the custom that obtained with 
r^ard to his descendants in historical times, we may fairly 
infer that in Thessaly and probably in Boeotia there 
reigned of old a dynasty of which the kings were liable 
to be sacrificed for the good of the country to the god 
called Laphystian Zeus, but that they contrived to shift the 
fatal responsibility to their oflfspring, of whom the eldest 
son was regularly destined to the altar. As time went 
on, the cruel custom was so far mitigated that a ram 
was accepted as a vicarious sacrifice in room of the royal 
victim, provided always that the prince abstained from 
setting foot in the town-hall where the sacrifices were oflfered 
to Laphystian Zeus by one of his kinsmen.' But if he 

* Platarcli, Quaest, Grace, 38 ; 
Antoninus Liberalis, Transforw, 10 ; 
Ovid, Metam. iv. i sqq, 

* Pausanias, ix. 34. 5 Sifq, ; Apol* 
lonius Rhodius, Argo»uiutuay iii. 265 
sq,\ Hellanicus, cited by the Scholiast 
on A]X)lIonius, Lc, Apollodonis speaks 
of Athamas as reigning over Boeotia 
{fiibiiotheca, i. 9. I ) ; Tzetzes calls him 
king of Thebes (Sfhol, o» Lyfopkron^ 

' The old Scholiast on ApoUonius 
Rhodius {Ar^yfi. ii. 653) tells us that 
<Iown to his time it was customary for 
one of the descendants of Athamas to 

enter the town-hall and sacrifice to 
Laphystian Zeus. K. O. Miiller sees in 
this custom a mitigation of the ancient 
rule — instead of being themselves sacri- 
ficed, the scions of royalty were now 
])crmitted to offer sacrifice (Orfkcmentts 
und die Minyer^ p. 1 58). But this 
need not have been so. The obligation 
to serve as victims in certain circum- 
stances lay only on the eldest male of 
each generation in the direct line ; 
the sacrificers may have been )x>unger 
brothers or more remote relations of 
the destined victims. It may be 
observed that in a dynasty of which the 




were rash enough to enter the place of doom, to thrust 
himself wilfully, as it were, on the notice of the god who 
had good-naturedly winked at the substitution of a ram, 
the ancient obligation which had been suffered to lie in 
abeyance recovered all its force, and there was no help for it 
but he must die. The tradition which associated the 
sacrifice of the king or his children with a great dearth 
points clearly to the belief, so common among primitive 
folk, that the king is responsible for the weather and the 
crops, and that he may justly pay with his life for the in- 
clemency of the one or the failure of the other. Athamas and 
his line, in short, appear to have united divine or magical 
with royal functions ; and this view is strongly supported 
by the claims to divinity which Salmoneus, the brother of 
Athamas, is said to have set up. We have seen that this 
presumptuous mortal professed to be no other than Zeus 
himself, and to wield the thunder and lightning, of which he 
made a trumpery imitation by the help of tinkling kettles 
and blazing torches.^ If we may judge from analogy, his 
mock thunder and lightning were no mere scenic exhibition 
designed to deceive and impress the beholders ; they were 
enchantments practised by the royal magician for the 
purpose of bringing about the celestial phenomena which 
they feebly mimicked.* 

Among the Semites of Western Asia the king, in a time 


eldest males were regularly sacrificed, 
the kings, if they were not themselves 
the victims, must always have been 
younger sons. 

^ See vol. i. p. 113 sq, 

< I have followed K. O. MuUer 
( Orchomenus und die Minyer^ pp. 1 60, 
166 iq,) in regarding the ram which 
saved Phrixus as a mythical expression 
for the substitution of a ram for a human 
victim. He points out that a ram 
was the proper victim to sacrifice to 
Trophonius(Pausanias,ix. 39. 6), whose 
very ancient worship was practised at 
Lebadea not far from Orchomenus. 
The principle of vicarious sacrifices was 
familiar enough to the Greeks, as K. 
O. M tiller does not fail to indicate. 
At Potniae, near Thebes, goats were 

substituted as victims instead of boys 
in the sacrifices offered to Dionysus 
(Pftusanias, ix. 8. 2). Once when an 
oracle commanded that a girl should 
be sacrificed to Munychian Artemis 
in order to stay a plague or famine, a 
goat dressed up as a girl was sacrificed 
instead (Eustathius on Homer, Iliad^ 
'>• 732t P* 33 > » Apostolius, vii. 10 ; 
JParoemi^j^, Graea\ ed. Leutsch et 
Schneidewin, ii. 402 ; Suidas, j.v. 
'Efi/Sapor). At Salamis in Cyprus a 
man was annually sacrifices! to Aphro- 
dite and afterwards to Diomede, but 
in later times an ox was substituted 
(Porphyry, De ahstituniia^ ii. 54). 
At Laodicea in Syria a deer took the 
place of a maiden as the victim yearly 
offered to Athena (Porphyry, ep, cit. 
ii. 56). 


of national danger, sometimes gave his own son to die as a 
sacrifice for the people. Thus Philo of Byblus, in his work 
on the Jews, says : " It was an ancient custom in a crisis of 
great danger that the ruler of a city or nation should give 
his beloved son to die for the whole people, as a ransom 
offered to the avenging demons ; and the children thus 
offered were slain with mystic rites. So Cronus, whom the 
Phoenicians call Israel, being king of the land and having 
an only-begotten son called Jeoud (for in the Phoenician 
tongue Jeoud signifies * only-begotten *), dressed him in royal 
robes and sacrificed him upon an altar in a time of war, 
when the country was in great danger from the enemy." ^ 
When the king of Moab was besieged by the Israelites and 
hard beset, he took his eldest son, who should have reigned 
in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering on the 

But amongst the Semites the practice of sacrificing their 
children was not confined to kings. In times of great 
calamity, such as pestilence, drought, or defeat in war, the 
Phoenicians used to sacrifice one of their dearest to Baal. 
" Phoenician history," says an ancient writer, " is full of such 
sacrifices."' The writer of a dialogue ascribed to Plato 
observes that the Carthaginians immolated human beings as 
if it were right and lawful to do so, and some of them, he 
adds, even sacrificed their own sons to Baal.* When Gelo, 
tyrant of Syracuse, defeated the Carthaginians in the great 
battle of Himera he required as a condition of peace that 
they should sacrifice their children to Baal no longer.* But 
the barbarous custom was too inveterate and too agreeable 
to Semitic modes of thought to be so easily eradicated, and 
the humane stipulation of the Greek despot probably remained 
a dead letter. At all events the history of this remarkable 
people, who combined in so high a degree the spirit of com- 
mercia4 enterprise with a blind attachment to a stern and 
gloomy religion, is stained in later times with instances of 
the same cruel superstition. When the Carthaginians were 

* Philo of Byblus, quoted by Euse- * Plato, MittoSy p. 315 c. 

bius, Praepar. Evang. i. 10. 29 sq, 

' 2 Kings iii. 27. * Plutarch, Regum et imptraiorum 

' Porphyry, De ahilituutia^ ii. 56. apophthegmata^ Ceion, /. 




defeated and besieged by Agathocles, they ascribed their 
disasters to the wrath of Baal ; for whereas in former times 
they had been wont to sacrifice to him their own offspring, 
they had latterly fallen into the habit of buying children and 
rearing them to be victims. So, to appease the angry god, 
two hundred children of the noblest families were picked out 
for sacrifice, and the tale of victims was swelled by not less 
than three hundred more who volunteered to die for the 
fatherland. They were sacrificed by being placed, one by 
one, on the sloping hands of the brazen image, from which 
they rolled into a pit of fire.* Childless people among 
the Carthaginians bought children from poor parents and 
slaughtered them, says Plutarch, as if they were lambs or 
chickens ; and the mother had to stand by and see it done 
without a tear or a groan, for if she wept or moaned she 
lost all the credit and the child was sacrificed none the less. 
But all the place in front of the image was filled with a 
tumultuous music of fifes and drums to drown the shrieks 
of the victims.^ Infants were publicly sacrificed by the 
Carthaginians down to the proconsulate of Tiberius, who 
crucified the priests on the trees beside their temples. 
Yet the practice still went on secretly in the lifetime of 

Among the Canaanites or aboriginal inhabitants of 
Palestine, whom the invading Israelites conquered but did 
not exterminate, the grisly custom of burning their children 
in honour of Bdal or Moloch seems to have been regularly 
practised.* To the best representatives of the Hebrew 
people, the authors of their noble literature, such rites were 
abhorrent, and they warned their fellow-countrjrmen against 
participating in them. " When thou art come into the land 
which the Lord thy God g^veth thee, thou shalt not learn to 
do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not 
be found with thee any one that maketh his son or his 
daughter to pass through the fire, one that useth divination. 

' Diodorus, xx. 14. 

* PJatarch, De superstitione^ 13. 

' Tertullian, A^logeticus 6. Com- 
pare Justin, xviii. 6. 12. 

4 <* Every abomination to the Lord, 

which he hateth, have they done anto 
their gods ; for even their sons and 
their daughters do they bum in the 6 re 
to their gods,'* Deuteronomy xii. 31. 
Here and in what follows I quote the 
Revised English Version. 




one that practiseth augury, or an enchanter, or a sorcerer, or 
a charmer, or a consulter with a familiar spirit, or a wizard, 
or a necromancer. For whosoever doeth these things is an 
abomination unto the Lord : and because of these abomina- 
tions the Lx)rd thy God doth drive them out from before 
thee." ' Again we read : *' And thou shalt not give any of 
thy seed to pass through the fire to Molech." ^ Whatever 
effect these warnings may have had in the earlier days of 
Israelitish history, there is abundant evidence that in later 
times the Hebrews lapsed, or rather perhaps relapsed, into 
that congenial mire of superstition from which the higher 
spirits of the nation were ever struggling — too often in vain — 
to rescue them. The Psalmist laments that his erring country- 
men " mingled themselves with the nations, and learned their 
works : and they served their idols ; which became a snare 
unto them : yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters 
unto demons, and shed innocent blood, even the blood of 
their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto 
the idols of Canaan ; and the land was polluted with blood."^ 
When the Hebrew annalist has recorded how Shalmaneser, 
king of Assyria, besieged Samaria for three years and took 
it and carried Israel away into captivity, he explains that 
this was a divine punishment inflicted on his people for 
having fallen in with the evil ways of the Canaanites. They 
had built high places in all their cities, and set up pillars and 
sacred poles {asherim) upon every high hill and under every 
green tree ; and there they burnt incense after the manner 
of the heathen. " And they forsook all the commandments 
of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, even 
two calves, and made an Asherah, and worshipped all the 
host of heaven, and served Baal. And they caused their 
sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used 
divination and enchantments."* At Jerusalem in these 
days there was a regularly appointed place where parents 
burned their children, both boys and girls, in honour of Baal 
or Moloch. It was in the valley of Hinnom, just outside 
the walls of the city, and bore the name, infamous ever 
since, of Tophet. The practice is referred to again and 

* Deuteronomy xviii. 9-12. •* Psalms cvi. 35-38. 

' Leviticus xviii. 21. * 2 Kings ii. 5*17. 




again with sorrowful indignation by the prophets.* The 
kings of Judah set an example to their people by burning 
their own children at the usual place. Thus of Ahaz, who 
reigned sixteen years at Jerusalem, we are told that "he 
burnt incense in the valley of Hinnom, and burnt his children 
in the fire."* Again, King Manasseh, whose long reign 
covered fifty-five years, " made his children to pass through 
the fire in the valley of Hinnom." * Afterwards in the reigfn 
of the good king Josiah the idolatrous excesses of the people 
were repressed, at least for a time, and among other measures 
of reform Tophet was defiled by the King's orders, " that no 
man might make his son or his daughter to pass through 
the fire to Molech."* Whether the place was ever used 
again for the same dark purpose as before does not appear. 
Lx)ng afterwards, under the sway of a milder faith, there was 
little in the valley to recall the tragic scenes which it had so 
often witnessed. Jerome describes it as a pleasant and 
shady spot, watered by the rills of Siloam and laid out in 
delightful gardens.* 

It would be interesting, though it might be fruitless, to 
inquire how far the Hebrew prophets and psalmists were 
right in their opinion that the Israelites learned these and 
other gloomy superstitions only through contact with the old 
inhabitants of the land, that the primitive purity of faith and 
morals which they brought with them from the free air of 


^ **And they have built the high 
places of Topheth, which is in the 
valley of the son of Hinnom, to bum 
their sons and their daughters in the 
fire," Jeremiah viL 31 ; ''And have 
built the high places of Baal, to bum 
their sons in the fire for burnt offerings 
unto Baal," /V/., xix. 5; "And they 
built the high places of Baal, which are 
in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to 
cause their sons and their daughters to 
pass through the fire unto Molech," 
fV/., xxxii. 35; ** Moreover thou hast 
taken ihy sons and thy daughters, 
whom thou hast borne unto me, and 
these hast thou sacrificed unto them to 
be devoured. Were thy whoredoms 
a small matter, that thou hast slain 
my children, and delivered them up, 
in causing them to pass through the 

fire unto them ? " Ezekiel zvi. 20 $q. ; 
compare xx. 26, 31. A comparison of 
these passages shows that the expression 
*' to cause to pass through the fire," so 
often employed in this connection in 
Scripture, meant to bum the children 
in the fire. Some have attempted to 
interpret the words in a milder sense. 
See J. Spencer, De kgibus Hebnuorum^ 
p. 288 sqq, 

' 2 Chronicles xxviii. 3. In the 
corresponding passage of 2 Kings (xvi. 
3) it is said that Ahaz *< made his son 
to pass through the fire." 

^ 2 Chronicles xxxiii. 6 ; compare 
2 Kings xxi. 6. 

^ 2 Kings xxiii. 10. 

^ Jerome on Jeremiah vii. 31, 
quoted in Winer's Biblisckes Real- 
tvorterbutk^ j.r. " Thopcth." 


the desert was tainted and polluted by the grossness and 
corruption of the heathen in the fat land of Canaan. 
When we remember, however, that the Israelites were of 
the same Semitic stock as the population they conquered 
and professed to despise,^ and that the practice of human 
sacrifice is attested for many branches of the Semitic race, 
we shall, perhaps, incline to surmise that the chosen people 
may have brought with them into Palestine the seeds 
which afterwards sprang up and bore such ghastly fruit in 
the valley of Hinnom. It is at least significant of the 
prevalence of such customs among the Semites that no 
sooner were the child -burning Israelites carried ofT by 
King Shalmaneser to Assyria than their place was taken 
by Babylonian colonists who practised precisely the same 
rites in honour of deities who probably differed in little 
but name from those revered by the idolatrous Hebrews. 
"The Sepharvites," we are told, "burnt their children in 
the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of 
Sepharvaim." * The pious Jewish historian, who saw in 
Israel's exile God's punishment for sin, has suggested no 
explanation of that mystery in the divine economy which 
suffered the Sepharvites to continue on the same spot the 
very same abominations for which the erring Hebrews had 
just been so signally chastised. 

We have still to ask which of their children the Semites 
picked out for sacrifice ; for that a choice was made and 
some principle of selection followed, may be taken for granted. 
A people who burned all their children indiscriminately would 
soon extinguish themselves, and such an excess of piety is 
probably rare, if not unknown. In point of fact it seems, at 
least among the Hebrews, to have been only the firstborn 
child that was doomed to the flames. The prophet Micah 
asks, in a familiar passage, " Wherewith shall I come before 
the Lord, and bow myself before the high God ? shall I come 
before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old ? 
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with 

' The Tel EI-Amarna tablets prove Driver, in Authority and Archaeolo^^ 
that " the prae-Israelitish inhabitants Soared and Profauty edited by I). G. 
of Canaan were closely akin to the Hogarth (London, 1899), p. 76). 
Hebrews, and that they spoke sub- 
stantially the same language" (S. K. -' 2 Kings xvii. 31. 




ten thousands of rivers of oil ? shall I give my firstborn for 
my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my 
soul ? " These were the questions which pious and doubting 
hearts were putting to themselves in the days of the prophet. 
The prophet's own answer is not doubtful. " He hath shewed 
thee, O man, what is good ; and what doth the Lord require 
of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk 
humbly with thy God?"^ It is a noble answer and one 
which only elect spirits in that or, perhaps, in any age have \ 
given. In Israel the vulgar answer was given on bloody 
altars and in the smoke and flames of Tophet, and the form 
in which the prophet's question is cast — ** Shall I give my 
firstborn for my transgression?" — shows plainly on which 
of the children the duty of atoning for the sins of their \ 
father was supposed to fall. A passage in Ezekiel points ! 
no less clearly to the same conclusion. The prophet ' 
represents God as saying, " I gave them statutes that were 
not good, and judgements wherein they should not live ; and 
I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to 
pass through the fire all that openeth the womb, that I might 
make them desolate." That the writer was here thinking 
specially of the sacrifice of children is proved by his own 
words a little later on. " When ye offer your gifts, when ye 
make your sons to pass through the fire, do ye pollute your- 
selves with all your idols, unto this day ? " * Further, that 
by the words " to pass through the fire all that openeth the 
womb " he referred only to the firstborn can easily be shown 
by the language of Scripture in reference to that law of the 
consecration of firstlings which Ezekiel undoubtedly had in 
his mind when he wrote this passage. Thus we find that 
law enunciated in the following terms : " And the Lord spake 
unto Moses, saying, Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, what- 
soever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both 
of man and of beast : it is mine." * Again, it is written : 
" Thou shalt set apart unto the Lord all that openeth the 
womb, and every firstling which thou hast that cometh of a 
beast; the males shall be the Lord's."^ Once more: "All 
that openeth the womb is mine ; and all thy cattle that is 

' Micah vi. 6-8. ^ Exodus xiii. I sq, 

' Ezekiel xx. 25, 26, 31. ** Exodus xiii. 12. 




male, the firstlings of ox and sheep." ^ This ancient Hebrew 
custom of the consecration to God of all male firstlings, 
whether of man or beast, was merely the application to the 
animal kingdom of the law that all first fruits whatsoever 
belong to the deity and must be made over to him or his 
representatives. That general law is thus stated by the 
Hebrew legislator : " Thou shalt not delay to offer of the 
abundance of thy fruits, and of thy liquors. The firstborn 
of thy sons shalt thou give unto me. Likewise shalt thou 
do with thine oxen, and with thy sheep : seven days it shall 
be with its dam ; and on the eighth day thou shalt give it 



Thus the god of the Hebrews plainly regarded the first- 
bom of men and the firstlings of animals as his own, and 
required that they should be made over to him. But how ? 
Here a distinction was drawn between sheep, oxen, and 
goats on the one hand and men and asses on the other ; the 
firstlings of the former were always sacrificed, the firstlings 
of the latter were generally redeemed. " The firstling of an 
ox, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat, thou 
shalt not redeem ; they are holy : thou shalt sprinkle their 
blood upon the altar, and shalt burn their fat for an offering 
made by fire for a sweet savour unto the Lord." The flesh 
went to the Levites,' who consumed it, no doubt, instead of 
the deity whom they represented. On the other hand, the 
ass was not sacrificed by the Israelites, probably because 
they did not eat the animal themselves, and hence concluded 
that God did not do so either. In the matter of diet the 
taste of gods generally presents a striking resemblance to 

1 Exodus xxxiv. 19. In the Author- 
ised Version the passage runs thus : ** All 
that openeth the matrix is mine ; and 
every firstling among thy cattle, whether 
ox or sheep, that is male.** 

* Exodus xxii. 29 sq. The Author- 
ised Version has ** the first of thy ripe 
fruits" in-stead of **the abundance of 
thy fruits." 

' Numbers xviii. 1 7 sg. Elsewhere, 
however, we read : '* All the firstling 
males that are bom of thy herd and of 
thy flock thou shalt sanctify unto the 
Lord thy God : thou shalt do no work 

with the firstling of thine ox, nor shear 
the firstling of thy flock. Thou shalt 
eat it before the Lord thy God year by 
year in the place which the Lord shall 
choose, thou and thy household,** 
Deuteronomy xv. 19 sq. Compare 
Deuteronomy xii. 6 sq.^ 17 sq. To 
reconcile this ordinance with the other 
we must suppose that the flesh was 
divided between the I^\'ite and the 
owner of the animal. Hut perhaps the 
rule in Deuteronomy may represent 
the old custom which obtained liefore 
the rise of the priestly caste. 



that of their worshippers. Still the firstling ass, like all 
other firstlings, was sacred to the deity, and since it was not 
sacrificed to him, he had to receive an equivalent for it. In 
other words, the ass had to be redeemed, and the price of 
the redemption was a lamb which was burnt as a vicarious 
sacrifice instead of the ass, on the hypothesis, apparently, 
that roast lamb is likely to be more palatable to the Supreme [ 
Being than roast donkey. If the ass was not redeemed, it 
had to be killed by having its neck broken.^ The firstlings 
of other unclean animals and of men were redeemed for five 
shekels a head, which were paid to the Levites.* 

We can now readily understand why so many of the 
Hebrews, at least in the later days of their history, sacrificed 
their firstborn children, and why tender-hearted parents, 
whose affection for their offspring exceeded their devotion to 
the deity, may often have been visited with compunction, 
and even tormented with feelings of bitter self-reproach and 
shame at their carnal weakness in suffering the beloved son 
to live, when they saw others, with an heroic piety which 
they could not emulate, calmly resigning their dear ones to 
the fire, through which, as they firmly believed, they passed 
to God, to reap, perhaps, in endless bliss in heaven the 
reward of their sharp but transient sufferings on earth* 
From infancy they had been bred up in the belief that the 
firstborn was sacred to God, and though they knew that be 
had waived his right to them in consideration of the receipt 
of five shekels a head, they could hardly view this as any- 
thing but an act of gracious condescension, of generous 
liberality on the part of the divinity who had stooped to 
accept so trifling a sum instead of the life which really 
belonged to him. " Surely," they might ai^ue, " God would 
be better pleased if we were to give him not the money but 
the life, not the poor paltry shekels, but what we value most, 
our first and best-loved child. If we hold that life so dear, 
will not he also ? It is his. Why should we not give him 
his own ? " It was in answer to anxious questions such as 
these, and to quiet truly conscientious scruples of this sort 
that the prophet Micah declared that what God required of 

^ Exodus xiii. 13, xxxiv. 20. 
- Numbers xviii. 15 sq, Cp. Numbers Hi. 46-51 ; Exodus xiii. 13, xxxiv. 20. 





I his true worshippers was not sacrifice but justice and mercy 
\ and humility. It is the answer of morality to religion — of 
the growing consciousness that man's duty is not to pro- 
pitiate with vain oblations those mysterious powers of the 
universe of which he can know little or nothing, but to be 
just and merciful in his dealings with his fellows and to 
humbly trust, though he cannot know, that by acting thus 
he will best please the higher powers, whatever they may be. 
But while morality ranges itself on the side of the 
prophet, it may be questioned whether history and pre- 
• cedent were not on the side of his adversaries. If the 
firstborn of men and cattle were alike sacred to God, 
and the firstborn of cattle were regularly sacrificed, while 
the firstborn of men were ransomed by a money pay- 
ment, has not this last provision the appearance of being 
a later mitigation of an older and harsher custom which 
doomed firstborn children, like firstling lambs and calves 
and goats, to the altar or the fire? The suspicion is 
greatly streng^thened by the remarkable tradition told to 
account for the sanctity of the firstborn. When Israel 
was in bondage in Egypt, so runs the tradition, God resolved 
to deliver them from captivity, and to lead them to the 
Promised Land. But the Egyptians were loth to part with 
their bondmen and thwarted the divine purpose by refusing 
to let the Israelites go. Accordingly God afflicted these 
cruel taskmasters with one plague after another, but all in 
vain, until at last he made up his mind to resort to a strong 
measure, which would surely have the desired effect. At 
dead of night he would pass through the land killing all the 
firstborn of the Egyptians, both man and beast ; not one of 
them would be left alive in the morning. But the Israelites 
were warned of what was about to happen and told to keep 
indoors that night, and to put a mark on their houses, so 
that when he passed down the street on his errand of 
slaughter, God might know them at sight from the houses of 
the Egyptians and not turn in and massacre the wrong 
children and animals. The mark was to be the blood of a 
lamb smeared on the lintel and side posts of the door. In 
every house the lamb, whose red blood was to be the badge 
of Israel that night, as the white scarves were the badge of 




the Catholics on the night of St. Bartholomew, was to be 
killed at evening and eaten by the household, with very 
peculiar rites, during the hours of darkness while the 
butchery was proceeding ; none of the flesh was to see the 
morning light ; whatever the family could not eat was to be 
burned with fire. All this was done. The massacre of 
Egyptian children and animals was successfully perpetrated 
and had the desired effect ; and to commemorate this great 
triumph God ordained that all the firstborn of man and 
beast among the Israelites should be sacred to him ever 
afterwards in the manner already described, the edible 
animals to be sacrificed, and the uneatable, especially men 
and asses, to be ransomed by a substitute or by a pecuniary 
payment of so much a head. And a festival was to be 
celebrated every spring with rites exactly like those which 
were observed on the night of the great, slaughter. The 
divine command was obeyed, and the festival thus instituted 
was the Passover.^ 

The one thing that looms clear through the haze of this 
weird tradition is the memory of a great massacre of first- 
bom. This was the origin, we are told, both of the sanctity 
of the firstborn and the feast of the Passover. But when 
we are further told that the people whose firstborn were 
slaughtered on that occasion were not the Hebrews but their 
enemies, we are at once met by serious difficulties. Why, 
we may ask, should the Israelites kill the firstlings of their 
cattle for ever because God once killed those of the Egyptians ? 
and why should every Hebrew father have to pay God a 
ransom for his firstborn child because God once slew all the 
firstborn children of the Egyptians? In this form the 
tradition offers no intelligible explanation of the custom. 
But it at once becomes clear and intelligible when we 
assume that in the original version of the story it was the 
Hebrew firstborn that were slain ; that in fact the slaughter 
of the firstborn children was formerly, what the slaughter of 
the firstborn cattle always continued to be, not an isolated 


* Kxcxlus xi.-xiii. i6; Nuin1)ers their blood on the (gateways of the 
iii. 13, viit. 17. In Western Africa, village (Miss Mary H. Kingsley, 
when a peslilence or an attack of Travels in West Africa, p. 454, corn- 
enemies is expected, it is customary to pare p. 451). 
lacriBce sheep and goats and smear 


• \ 

1 1 1 THE PA SSO VER 49 

butchery but a regular custom, which with the growth of 
more humane sentiments was afterwards softened into the 
vicarious sacrifice of a lamb and the payment of a ransom 
for each child. Here the reader may be reminded of another 
Hebrew tradition in which the sacrifice of the firstborn child 
is indicated still more clearly. Abraham, we are informed, 
was commanded by God to offer up his firstborn son Isaac 
as a burnt sacrifice, and was on the point of obeying the 
divine command, when God, content with this proof of his 
faith and obedience, substituted for the human victim a ram, 
which Abraham accordingly sacrificed instead of his son.^ 
Putting the two traditions together and observing how 
exactly they dovetail into each other and into the later 
Hebrew practice of actually sacrificing the firstborn children 
by fire to Baal or Moloch, we can hardly resist the conclusion 
that, before the practice of redeeming them was introduced, 
the Hebrews, like the other branches of the Semitic race, 
regularly sacrificed their firstborn children by the fire or the 
knife. The Passover, if this view is right, was the occasion 
when the awful sacrifice was offered ; and the tradition of 
its origin has preserved in its main outlines a vivid memory 
of the horrors of these fearful nights. They must have been 
like the nights called Evil on the west coast of Africa, in 
Dahomey and Ashantee, when the people keep indoors, 
because the executioners are going about the streets and the 
heads of the human victims are falling in the king's palace. 
But seen in the lurid light of superstition or of legend they 
were no common mortals, no vulgar executioners, who did 
the dreadful work at the first Passover. The Angel of 
Death was abroad that night ; into every house he entered, 
and a sound of lamentation followed him as he came forth 
with his dripping sword. The blood that bespattered the 
lintel and door-posts would at first be the blood of the 
firstborn child of the house ; and when the blood of a lamb 
was afterwards substituted, we may suppose that it was 
intended not so much to appease as to cheat the ghastly 
visitant. Seeing the red drops in the doorway he would 
say to himself, " That is the blood of their child. I need 
not turn in there. I have many yet to slay before the 

' Genesis xxii. 1*13. 
VOL. 11 E 




morning breaks gray in the east." And he would pass on 
in haste. And the trembling parents, as they clasped their 
little one to their breast, might fancy that they heard his 
footfalls growing fainter and fainter down the street In 
plain words, we may surmise that the slaughter was 
originally done by masked men, like the Mumbo Jumbos \ 
and similar figures of West Africa, who went from house to I 
house and were believed by the uninitiated to be the deity 
or his divine messengers come in person to carry off the 
victims. When the leaders had decided to allow the sacri- j \ 
fice of animals instead of children, they would give the ; 
people a hint that if they only killed a lamb and smeared 
its blood on the door-posts, the bloodthirsty but near-sighted 
deity would never know the difference. 

If this be indeed the origin of the Passover and of the 
sanctity of the firstborn among the Hebrews, the whole of 
the Semitic evidence on the subject is seen to fall into line 
at once. The children whom the Carthaginians, Phoenicians, 
Canaanites, Moabites, Sepharvites, and probably other 
branches of the Semitic race burnt in the fire would be 
their firstborn only, although in general ancient writers 
have failed to indicate this limitation of the custom. For 
the Moabites, indeed, the limitation is clearly indicated, if 
not expressly stated, when we read that the king of Moab 
offered his eldest son, who should have reigned after him, as a 
burnt sacrifice on the wall.^ For the Phoenicians it comes out 
less distinctly in the statement of Porphyry that the Phoe- 
nicians used to sacrifice one of their dearest to Baal, and in 
the legend recorded by Philo of Byblus that Cronus sacrificed 
his only-begotten son.^ We may suppose that the custom 
of sacrificing the firstborn both of men and animals was a 
very ancient Semitic institution, which many branches of the 
race kept up within historical times ; but that the Hebrews, 
while they maintained the custom in regard to domestic 
cattle, were led by their loftier morality to discard it in 
respect of children, and to replace it by a merciful law that 
firstborn children should be ransomed instead of sacrificed.* 

^ 2 Kings ill. 27. born among modern Jews, see L. Low, 

* Sec above, p. 39. Die Lebensalier in der jiidischen Liter- 

' As to the redemption of the 6rst* a///r (Szegedin, 1875), PP- no- 1 18. 



The conclusion that the Hebrew custom of redeeming 
the firstborn is a modification of an older custom of sacrific- 
ing them has been mentioned by some very distinguished 
scholars only to be rejected on the ground, apparently, of its 
extreme improbabilit}-.^ To me the converging lines of 
evidence which point to this conclusion seem too numerous 
and too distinct to be thus lightly brushed aside. And the 
argument from improbability can easily be rebutted by 
pointing to other peoples who are known to have practised 
or to be still practising a custom of the same sort In some 
tribes of New South Wales the firstborn child of every 
woman was eaten by the tribe as part of a religious cere- 
mony/*^ Amongst the people , of Senjero in Eastern Africa 
we are told that many families must offer up their firstborn 
sons as sacrifices, because once upon a time, when summer 
and winter were jumbled together in a bad season, and the 
fruits of the earth would not ripen, the soothsayers enjoined 
it At that time a great pillar of iron is said to have stood 
at the entrance of the capital, which in accordance with 
the advice of the soothsayers was broken down by order 
of the king, whereupon the seasons became r^ular again. 
To avert the recurrence of such a calamity the wizards 
commanded the king to pour human blood once a year on 
the base of the broken shaft of the pillar, and also upon the 
throne. Since then certain families have been obliged to de- 
liver up their firstborn sons, who are sacrificed at an appointed 
time.' Among some tribes of South-Eastem Africa it is a rule 
that when a woman's husband has been killed in battle and 
she marries again, the first child she gives birth to after her 
second marriage must be put to death, whether she has it by 

* J. Wellhausen, rrole;;;ometm zur 
Gesfhuhte Israeh^^ p. 90 ; \V. Robert- 
son Smith, Ketii^ofi of the Semites^ 
p. 464. 

* Brough Smyth, Abort)* ines of 
Victoria, ii. 311. In the Luritcha 

tribe of Central Australia ** young 
children are sometimes killed and 
eaten, and it is not an infrequent 
custom, when a child is in weak health, 
to kill a younger and healthy one and 
then to feed the weakling pn its flesh. 

the idea being that this will give the 
weak child the strength of the stronger 
one'* (Spencer and Gillen, Native 
Tribes of Central Australia^ p. 475). 

' J. L. Krapf, Travels, Researxhes, 
and Missionary Labours during am 
eigAteeu years* Residence in Eastern 
Africa (London, i860), p. 69 sq. Dr. 
KrapC who reports the custom at 
second hand, thinks that the existence 
of the pillar may be doubted, but that 
the rest of the story harmonises well 
enough with African superstition. 




her first or her second husband. Such a child is called 
" the child of the assegai," and if it were not killed, death or 
an accident would be sure to befall the second spouse, and 
the woman herself would be barren. The notion is that the 
woman must have had some share in the misfortune that 
overtook her first husband, and that the only way of removing 
the malign influence is to slay "the child of the assegai."^ 
The heathen Russians often sacrificed their firstborn to the 
god Perun.* The Kutonaqa Indians of British Columbia 
worship the sun and sacrifice their firstborn children to him. 
When a woman is with child she prays to the sun, saying, 
" I am with child. When it is born I shall offer it to you. 
Have pity upon us." Thus they expect to secure health 
and good fortune for their families.' Among the Coast 
Salish Indians of the sam^ region the first child is often 
sacrificed to the sun in order to ensure the health and 
prosperity of the whole family.* The Indians of Florida 
sacrificed their firstborn male children.^ Among the Indians 
of North Carolina down to the early part of the eighteenth 
century a remarkable ceremony was performed, which seems 
to be most naturally interpreted as a modification of an 
older custom of putting the king's son to death, perhaps as 
a substitute for his father. It is thus described by a 
writer of that period : " They have a strange custom or 
ceremony amongst them, to call to mind the persecutions 
and death of the kings their ancestors slain by their enemies 
at certain seasons, and particularly when the savages have 
been at war with any nation, and return from their country 
without bringing home some prisoners of war, or the heads 



I \ 

^ J. Macdonald, Light in Africa^ 
p. 156. Iq the text I have embodied 
some fuller explanations and parti- 
culars which my friend the Rev. Mr. 
Macdonald was good enough to send 
roe in a letter dated September i6th, 
1899. Among the tribes with which 
Mr. Macdonald is best acquainted the 
custom is obsolete and lives only in 
tradition; formerly it was universally 

' F. J. Mone, Geschichte des Heufen* 
thums im nifrdlichen Europa^ i. 119. 

' Fr. Boas, in "Fourth Annual 

Report on the North -Western tribes 
of Canada,'* Report of the British 
Association for 1888, p. 242; fir/., in 
Fifth Report on the North - Western 
Tribes of Canada^ P« 52 (separate re- 
print from the Report of the British 
Association for 1889). 

* Fr. Boas, in Fifth Report on the 
North-Western Tribes of Canada, p. 
46 (separate reprint from the Report 
of the British Association for 1889). 

• Strachey, Historie oftrctvaille into 
Virginia Britannia (Hakluyt Society), 
p. 84. 


of their enemies. The king causes as a perpetual remem- 
brance of all his predecessors to beat and wound the best 
beloved of all his children with the same weapons wherewith 
they had been killed in former times, to the end that 
by renewing the wound, their death should be lamented 
afresh. The king and his nation being assembled on 
these occasions, a feast is prepared, and the Indian who 
is authorised to wound the king's son, runs about the 
house like a distracted person crying and making a most 
hideous noise all the time with the weapon in his hand, 
wherewith he wounds the king's son ; this he performs 
three several times, during which interval he presents the 
king with victuals or cassena^ and it is very strange to 
see the Indian that is thus struck never offers to stir till 
he is wounded the third time, after which he falls down back- 
wards stretching out his arms and legs as if he had been 
ready to expire ; then the rest of the king's sons and daughters, 
together with the mother and vast numbers of women and 
girls fall at his feet and lament and cry most bitterly. 
During this time the king and his retinue are feasting, yet 
with such profound silence for some hours, that not one 
word or even a whisper is to be heard amongst them. After 
this manner they continue till night, which ends in singing, 
dancing, and the greatest joy imaginable."^ In this account 
the description of the frantic manner assumed by the person 
whose duty it was to wound the king's son reminds us of 
the frenzy of King Athamas when he took or attempted the 
lives of his children.' The same feature is said to have 
characterised the sacrifice of children in Peru. " When any 
person of note was sick and the priest said he must die, they 
sacrificed his son, desiring the idol to be satisfied with him 
and not to take away his father's life. The ceremonies 
used at these sacrifices were strange, for they behaved them- 
selves like mad men. They believed that all calamities 
were occasioned by sin, and that sacrifices were the remedy/" 
An early Spanish historian of the conquest of Peru, in 

* J. Bricknell, The Natural History - Sec above, p. 35. 
c/ North Carolina (Dublin, 1737), 

p. 342 sq, I have taken the liberty ' Herrera, The ^qetural history of the 

of altering slightly the writer*s some- vast totitinent ami islands of Amiriea 

what eccentric punctuation. (translated by Stevens), iv. 347 sq. 




describing the Indians of the Peruvian valleys between 
San -Miguel and Caxamalca, records that "they have dis- 
gusting sacrifices and temples of idols which they hold in 
great veneration ; they offer them their most precious pos- 
sessions. Every month they sacrifice their own children 
and smear with the blood of the victims the face of the 
idols and the doors of the temples."^ Among the ancient 
Italian peoples, especially of the Sabine stock, it was 
customary in seasons of great peril or public calamity, as 
when the crops had failed or a pestilence was raging, to vow 
that they would sacrifice to the gods every creature, whether 
man or beast, that should be bom in the following spring. 
To the creatures thus devoted to sacrifice the name of " the 
sacred spring " was applied. " But since," says Festus, " it 
seemed cruel to slay innocent boys and girls, they were kept 
till they had grown up, then veiled and driven beyond the 
boundaries."^ Several Italian peoples, for example the Piceni, 
Samnites, and Hirpini, traced their origin to a "sacred 
spring,-" that is, to the consecrated youth who had swarmed 
off from the parent stock in consequence of such a vow.* 
When the Romans were engaged in a life-and-death struggle 
with Hannibal after their great defeat at the Trasimene 
Lake, they vowed to offer a " sacred spring " if victory should 
attend their arms and the commonwealth should retrieve its 
shattered fortunes. But the vow extended only to all the 
offspring of sheep, goats, oxen, and swine that should be 
brought forth on Italian mountains, plains, and meadows 
the following spring.* On a later occasion, when the 

' Fr. Xeres, Relation t'^ridiqtic tU 
fa (onqti^U dti Peron ei dt la Provime 
de Ctizc0 uoninitU: XouvcUe'CastilU (in 
Ternaux-Compans's VoyageSy RdaiUns 
et Mimoiresy etc., Paris, 1837), p. 53. 

* Festus, De verbonim signifiea' 
tionif ed. Miiller, p. 379, compare 
p. 158; Scn-ius on Virgil, Aen, 
vii. 796 ; Nonius Marcellus, x.r. 
••ver sacrum," p. 522 (p. 610, ed. 
Quicherat); Dionysius I lalicamasensis, 
Antiqui't. Rom. \. 16. Dionysius says 
that many Greek ami barbarian peoples 
had practiseil the same custom. 

^ Strabo, v. 4. 2 and 12 : Pliny, Nat, 

Hist, iiL 110; Festus, De sigttif, verb., 
ed. MUller, p. 106. It is worthy of 
note that the three swarms which aAer- 
wards developed into the Piceni, the 
Samnites, and the Mirpini were said to 
have been guided by a woodpecker, a 
baU, and a wolf respectively, of which 
the woodpecker (ficiis) and the wolf 
{kirpus) gave their names to the Piceni 
and the Hirpini. The tradition may 
perhaps preser^-e a trace of totemism, 
but in the absence of clearer e\'idencc 
it would be rash to assume that it 
does so. 

* Livy, xxii. 9 sq, ; Plutarch, Fahiiis 
' MaximuSt 4. 






! \ 


Romans pledged themselves again by a similar vow, it was 
decided that by the " sacred spring " should be meant all the 
cattle bom between the first day of March and the last day 
of April.^ Although within historical memory the Italian 
peoples appear to have resorted to measures of this sort only 
in special emergencies, it seems not impossible that at an 
earlier time they may, like the Hebrews and perhaps the 
Semites in general, have been in the habit of dedicating all 
the firstborn, whether of man or beast, and sacrificing them 
at a great festival in spring.^ 

^ith the preceding evidence before us we may safely 
infer that a custom of allowing a king to kill his son, as a 
substitute or vicarious sacrifice for himself, would be in na 
way exceptional or surprising, at least in Semitic lands, where 
indeed religion seems at one time to have recommended or 
enjoined every man, as a duty that he owed to his god, to 
take the life of his eldest son. And it would be entirely in 
accordance with anal<^y if, long after the barbarous custom 
had been dropped by others, it continued to be observed 
by kings, who remain in many respects the representatives 
of a vanished world, solitary pinnacles that topple over the 
rising waste of waters under which the past lies buried. We 
have seen that in Greece two families of royal descent 
remained liable to furnish human victims from their number 
down to a time when the rest of their fellow-countrymen 
and countrywomen ran hardly more risk of being sacrificed 
than passengers in Cheapside at present run of being hurried 
into St. Paul's or Bow Church and immolated on the altar. 
A final mitigation of the custom would be to substitute con- 
demned criminals for innocent victims. Such a substitution 
is known to have taken place in the human sacrifices annually 
offered in Rhodes to Baal,' and wc have seen good grounds 
for believing that the criminal, who perished on the cross or 
the gallows at Babylon, died instead of the king in whose 

1 Livy, xxxiv. 44. with gold, about which stood twelve 

other rough stones. The passage in 

' In Vallancey's CoUectanca de Rebus which this statement occurs purports 

HUemicis^ vol iil (Dublin, 17S6), p. to be quoted from an ancient MS. 

457, it is said that the Irish ** sacrificed entitled Dnti • seancas^ or the Topo- 

the first born of every species" to a deity graphy of Ireland, 
called Crom-Cniaith, a stone capped ' Porphyr}*, Dc abstiuenlia^ ii. 54. 




royal robes he had been allowed to masquerade for a few 

The condemnation and pretended death by fire of the 
mock king in Egypt ^ is probably a reminiscence of a real 
custom of burning him. Evidence of a practice of burning 
divine personages will be forthcoming later on. In Bilaspur 
the expulsion of the Brahman who had occupied the king's 
throne for a year ' is perhaps a substitute for putting him to 

The explanation here given of the custom of killing 
divine persons assumes, or at least is readily combined with, 
the idea that the soul of the slain divinity is transmitted to 
his successor. Of this transmission I have no direct proof; 
and so far a link in the chain of evidence is wanting. But 
if I cannot prove by actual examples this succession to the 
soul of the slain god, it can at least be made probable that 
such a succession was supposed to take place. For it has 
been already shown that the soul of the incarnate deity is 
often supposed to transmigrate at death into another incar- 
nation ; ' and if this takes place when the death is a natural 
one, there seems no reason why it should not take place when 
the death has been brought about by violence. Certainly the 
idea that the soul of a dying person may be transmitted to his 
successor is perfectly familiar to primitive peoples. In Nias 
the eldest son usually succeeds his father in the chieftainship. 
But if from any bodily or mental defect the eldest son is 
disqualified for ruling, the father determines in his life- 
time which of his sons shall succeed him. In order, however, 
to establish his right of succession it is necessary that the 
son upon whom his father's choice falls shall catch in his 
mouth or in a bag the last breath, and with it the soul, of 
the dying chief. For whoever catches his last breath is 
chief equally with the appointed successor. Hence the 
other brothers, and sometimes also strangers, crowd round 
the dying man to catch his soul as it passes. The houses 
in Nias are raised above the ground on posts, and it has 
happened that when the dying man lay with his face on 
the floor, one of the candidates has bored a hole in the floor 

* Sec above, p. 30. * Sec above, p. 30 sq. 

' See above, vol. i p. 151 sfq. 




and sucked in the chiefs last breath through a bamboo 
tube. When the chief has no son, his soul is caught in a 
bag, which is fastened to an image made to represent the 
deceased ; the soul is then believed to pass inta the image.^ 
Amongst the Takilis or Carrier Indians of North- West 
America, when a corpse is burned the priest pretends to 
catch the soul of the deceased in his hands, which he closes 
with many gesticulations. He then communicates the 
captured soul to the dead man's successor by throwing his 
hands towards and blowing upon him. The person to whom 
the soul is thus communicated takes the name and rank of 
the deceased. On the death of a chief the priest thus fills 
a responsible and influential position, for he may transmit 
the soul to whom he will, though doubtless he generally 
follows the r^ular line of succession.' In Guatemala, when 
a great man lay at the point of death, they put a precious 
stone between his lips to receive the parting soul, and this 
was afterwards kept as a precious memorial by his nearest 
kinsman or most intimate friend.' Algonquin women who 
wished to become mothers flocked to the side of a dying 
person in the hope of receiving and being impregnated by 
the passing soul. Amongst the Seminoles of Florida when 
a woman died in childbed the infant was held over her face 
to receive her parting spirit.* The Romans caught the 
breath of dying friends in their mouths, and so received into 
themselves the soul of the departed.* The same custom is 
said to be still practised in Lancashire.^ On the seventh 
day after the death of a king of Gingiro the sorcerers bring 

' Nieuwenhuisen en Rosenberg, 
**Verslag omtrent het eiland Nias," 
lerAande/iugen van het Batav. Getioot- 
schap van Kunsten en Wet eitsc happen ^ 
XXX. (1863), p. 85 ; Rosenberg, Ar 
Malayisehe Archipel, p. 160; Chatelin, 
^' Godsdienst en bijgeloof der Niassers/' 
Tijdschrift xfoar Indische Taal- Laud- en 
Volkenhmde^ xxvi. 142 sq. ; Sunder- 
nmnn, " Die Insel Nias und die Mission 
daselbst," Allgemcine Missions -Zeit- 
schrift^ xi. 445 ; E. Modigliani, Cn 
viaggio a Nias, pp. 277, 479 jy. ; id., 
/J /sola delle Dottne (Milan, 1894), p. 

* Ch. Wilkes, Narratife of the U.S. 

Exploring Expedition (London, 1845), 
»v. 453 ; US, Exploring Expedition, 
Ethnography and Philology, by H. 
Hale, p. 203. 

^ Brasseur de Bourbourg, Histoire 
des Nations civilisies du Mexuiue et de 
r AmfriqtU'CentraU, ii. 574. 

^ D. G. Brinton, Myths of the New 
irorld^ (New York, 1876), p. 270 sf. 

^ Servius on Virgil, Ae9i, iv. 685 ; 
Cicero, /// I'err, ii. 5. 45 ; K. F. 
Hermann, Griech, Privatalterthihner, 
ed. Blumner, p. 362, note i. 

^ Harland and Wilkinson, Lanca^ 
shire Folk- lore, p. 7 jy. 


to his successor, wrapt in a piece of silk, a worm which they 
say comes from the nose of the dead king ; and they make 
the new king kill the worm by squeezing its head between 
his teeth.^ The ceremony seems to be intended to convey 
the spirit of the deceased monarch to his successor. The 
Danakil or Afars of Eastern Africa believe that the soul of 
a magician will be born again in the first male descendant 
of the man who was most active in attending on the dying 
magician in his last hours. Hence when a magician is ill \ 

he receives many attentions.^ In Uganda the spirit of the 
king who had been the last to die manifested itself from 
time to time in the person of a priest, who was prepared for 
the discharge of this exalted function by a peculiar ceremony. 
When the body of the king had been embalmed and had 
lain for five months in the tomb, which was a house built 
specially for it, the head was severed from the body and laid 
in an ant-hill. Having been stript of flesh by the insects^ 
the skull was washed in a particular river (the Ndyabuworu) j 
and filled with wine. One of the late king's priests then 
drank the wine out of the skull, and thus became himself a 
vessel meet to receive the spirit of the deceased monarch* 
The skull was afterwards replaced in the tomb, but the lower 
jaw was separated from it and deposited in a jar ; and this 
jar, being swathed in bark-cloth and decorated with beads 
so as to look like a man, henceforth represented the late 
king. A house was built for its reception in the shape of a 
beehive and divided into two rooms, an inner and an outer. 
Any person might enter the outer room, but in the inner 
room the spirit of the dead king was supposed to dwell. In 
front of the partition was set a throne covered with lion and 
leopard skins, and fenced off from the rest of the chamber 
by a rail of spears, shields, and knives, most of them made of 
copper and brass and beautifully worked. When the priest, 
who had fitted himself to receive the king's spirit, desired to 
converse with the people in the king's name, he went to the 
throne, and addressing the spirit in the inner room informed 

> 'like 7 ratals of the Jesuits hi * Ph. Paulilschke, Etknograpkie 

Ethiopia^ collected and historically Nordost-Afrikas^die geistij^ Culiurder 

digested by F. Balthazar Tcllcz (I^n- DatuUil^ Galia utui SonnU (Berlin, 

don, 1 7 to), p. 198. . 1896), p. 28. 


him of the business in hand. Then he smoked one or two 
pipes of tobacco, and in a few minutes began to rave, which 
was a sign that the spirit had entered into him. In this 
condition he spoke with the voice and made known the 
wishes of the late king. When he had done so, the spirit 
left him and returned into the inner room, and he himself 
departed a mere man as before.^ These examples at least 
show that provision is often made for the spiritual succession 
of kings and chiefs. On the whole we may therefore fairly 
suppose that when the divine king or priest is put to death 
his spirit is believed to pass into his successor. 

§ 2. Killing the Tree-spirit 

It remains to ask what light the custom of killing the 
divine king or priest sheds upon the subject of our inquiry. 
In the first chapter we saw reason to suppose that the King 
of the Wood was regarded as an incarnation of the tree- 
spirit or of the spirit of vegetation, and that as such he 
would be endowed, in the belief of his worshippers, with a 
magical power of making the trees to bear fruit, the crops 
to grow, and so on. His life must therefore have been held 
very precious by his worshippers, and was probably hedged 
in by a system of elaborate precautions or taboos like those 
by which, in so many places, the life of the man-god has 
been guarded against the malignant influence of demons 
and sorcerers. But we have seen that the very value 
attached to the life of the man-god necessitates his violent 
death as the only means of preserving it from the inevitable 
decay of age. The same reasoning would apply to the 
King of the Wood ; he too had to be killed in order that 
the divine spirit, incarnate in him, might be transferred in 
unabated vigour to his successor. The rule that he held 
office till a stronger should slay him might be supposed to 
secure both the preservation of his divine life in full vigour 
and its transference to a suitable successor as soon as that 
vigour began to be impaired. For so long as he could 
maintain his position by the strong hand, it might be in- 

* This account I received from my dated M«ngo, Uganda, 27lh April 
friend the Rev. J. Roscoe in n letter 1900. 




ferred that his natural force was not abated ; whereas his 
defeat and death at the hands of another proved that his 
strength was beginning to fail and that it was time his 
divine life should be lodged in a less dilapidated tabernacle. 
This explanation of the rule that the King of the Wood had 
to be slain by his successor at least renders that rule per- 
fectly intelligible. Moreover it is countenanced by the 
analogy of the Chitomb^, upon whose life the existence of 
the world was supposed to hang, and who was therefore 
slain by his successor as soon as he showed signs of break- 
ing up. Again, the terms on which in later times the King 
of Calicut held office are identical with those attached to the 
office of King of the Wood, except that whereas the former 
might be assailed by a candidate at any time, the King of 
Calicut might only be attacked once every twelve years. 
But as the leave granted to the King of Calicut to reign so 
long as he could defend himself against all comers was a 
mitigation of the old rule which set a fixed term to his life, 
so we may conjecture that the similar permission granted 
to the King of the Wood was a mitigation of an older 
custom of putting him to death at the end of a set period. 
In both cases the new rule gave to the god-man at least a 
chance for his life, which under the old rule was denied him ; 
and people probably reconciled themselves to the change by 
reflecting that so long as the god-man could maintain him- 
self by the sword against all assaults, there was no reason 
to apprehend that the fatal decay had set in. 

The conjecture that the King of the Wood was formerly 
put to death at the expiry of a set term, without being 
allowed a chance for his life, will be confirmed if evidence 
can be adduced of a custom of periodically killing his 
counterparts, the human representatives of the tree-spirit, in 
Northern Europe. Now in point of fact such a custom has 
left unmistakable traces of itself in the rural festivals of the 
peasantry. To take examples. 

At Niederporing, in Lower Bavaria, the Whitsuntide 
representative of the tree -spirit — the Pfingstl as he was 
called — was clad from top to toe in leaves and flowers. 
On his head he wore a high pointed cap, the ends of which 
rested on his shoulders, only two holes being left in it for 






his ^yt.s. The cap was covered with water -flowers and 
surmounted with a nosegay of peonies. The sleeves of his 
coat were also made of water-plants, and the rest of his 
body was enveloped in alder and hazel leaves. On each 
side of him marched a boy holding up one of the Pfingstrs 
arms. These two boys carried drawn swords, and so did 
most of the others who formed the procession. They stopped 
at every house where they hoped to receive a present ; and 
the people, in hiding, soused the leaf-clad boy with water. 
All rejoiced when he was well drenched. Finally he waded 
into the brook up to his middle ; whereupon one of the 
boys, standing on the bridge, pretended to cut off his head.^ 
At Wurmlingen, in Swabia, a score of young fellows dress 
themselves on Whit- Monday in white shirts and white 
trousers, with red scarves round their waists and swords 
hanging from the scarves. They ride on horseback into 
the wood, led by two trumpeters blowing their trumpets. 
In the wood they cut down leafy oak branches, in which 
they envelop from head to foot him who was the last of 
their number to ride out of the village. His legs, however, 
are encased separately, so that he may be able to mount 
his horse again. Further, they give him a long artificial 
neck, with an artificial head and a false face on the top of 
it Then a May-tree is cut, generally an aspen or beech 
about ten feet high ; and being decked with coloured hand- 
kerchiefs and ribbons it is entrusted to a special " May- 
bearer." The cavalcade then returns with music and song 
to the village. Amongst the personages who figure in the 
procession are a Moorish king with a sooty face and a 
crown on his head, a Dr. Iron-Beard, a corporal, and an 
executioner. They halt on the village-green, and each of 
the character^ makes a speech in rhyme. The executioner 

* Fr. Panzer, Beitrag zur deutschen 
MythologUt i. 235 sq, ; \V. Mannhardt, 
Baumkultus, p. 320 sq. In some 
villages of Lower Bavaria one of the 
Pfingstrs comrades carries ** the May," 
which is a young birch -tree wreathed 
and decorated. Another name for this 
Whitsuntide masker, both in Lower 
and Upper Bavaria, is the Water-bird. 
Sometimes he carries a straw effigy of 

a monstrous bird with a long neck and 
a wooden beak, which is thrown into 
the water instead of the bearer. The 
wooden beak is afterwards nailed to 
the ridge of a bam, which it is sap- 
posed to protect against lightning and 
fire for a whole year, till the next 
Pfingsil makes his appearance. See 
Bavaria^ Landes- und Volkskunde des 
Kbnigreichs Bayem^ L 375 iy., 1003 sq* 


announces that the leaf-clad man has been condemned to 
death, and cuts off his false head. Then the riders race 
to the May-tree, which has been set up a little way off. 
The first man who succeeds in wrenching it from the 
ground as he gallops past keeps it with all its decora- 
tions. The ceremony is observed every second or third \ 
year.^ i 

In Saxony and Thiiringen there is a Whitsuntide cere- 
mony called ** chasing the Wild Man out of the bush," or 
" fetching the Wild Man out of the wood." A young fellow 
is enveloped in leaves or moss and called the Wild Man. 
He hides in the wood and the other lads of the village go 
out to seek him. They find him, lead him captive out of 
the wood, and fire at him with blank muskets. He falls 
like dead to the ground, but a lad dressed as a doctor bleeds 
him, and he comes to life again. At this they rejoice, and, 
binding him fast on a waggon, take him to the village, 
where they tell all the people how they have caught the 
Wild Man. At every house they receive a gift* In the 
Erzgebirge the following custom was annually observed at 
Shrovetide about the beginning of the seventeenth century. 
Two men disguised as Wild Men, the one in brushwood and 
moss, the other in straw, were led about the streets, and at 
last taken to the market-place, where they were chased up 
and down, shot and stabbed. Before falling they reeled 
about with strange gestures and spirted blood on the people 
from bladders which they carried. When they were down, 
the huntsmen placed them on boards and carried them to 
the ale-house, the miners marching beside them and winding 
blasts on their mining tools as if they had taken a noble 
head of game.' A very similar Shrovetide custom is still 
observed near Schluckenau in Bohemia. A man dressed 
up as a Wild Man is chased through several streets till 
he comes to a narrow lane across which a cord is 
stretched. He stumbles over the cord and, falling to the 
ground, is overtaken and caught by his pursuers. The 

1 £. Meier, Deutsche Sa^n, Sitien Gebrawke aus Sackun und Thiirin^en^ 

und Gtbrducke aus Sckivaben^ pp. 409- p. 154 ly. ; W. Mannhardt, Baumkul- 

419 ; W. Maimhardt, Baumkultus^ p. tus^ p. "^^^ sq, 
349 sq. ' W. MoDohardt, Baumkultus^ p. 

* E. Sommer, Sa^n^ Marcken und 336. 


executioner runs up and stabs with his sword a bladder 
filled with blood which the Wild Man wears round his body ; 
so the Wild Man dies, while a stream of blood reddens the 
ground. Next day a straw-man, made up to look like the 
Wild Man, is placed on a litter, and, accompanied by a great 
crowd, is taken to a pool into which it is thrown by the execu- 
tioner. The ceremony is called " burying the Carnival." ^ 

In Semic (Bohemia) the custom of beheading the King 
is observed on Whit-Monday. A troop of young people 
disguise themselves ; each is girt with a girdle of bark and 
carries a wooden sword and a trumpet of willow-bark. The 
King wears a robe of tree-bark adorned with flowers, on his 
bead is a crown of bark decked with flowers and branches, 
his feet are wound about with ferns, a mask hides his face, 
and for a sceptre he has a hawthorn switch in his hand. A 
lad leads him through the village by a rope fastened to his 
foot, while the rest dance about, blow their trumpets, arid 
whistle. In every farmhouse the^ing is chased round the 
room, and one of the troop, amid much noise and outcry, 
strikes with his sword a blow on the King's robe of bark 
till it rings again. Then a gratuity is demanded.' The 
ceremony of decapitation, which is here somewhat slurred 
over, is carried out with a greater semblance of reality in other 
parts of Bohemia. Thus in some villages of the Koniggratz 
district on Whit-Monday the girls assemble under one lime- 
tree and the young men under another, all dressed in their 
best and tricked out with ribbons. The young men twine 
a garland for the Queen, and the girls another for the King. 
When they have chosen the King and Queen they all go in 
procession, two and two, to the ale-house, from the balcony 
of which the crier proclaims the names of the King and 
Queen. Both are then invested with the insignia of their 
dignity and are crowned with the garlands, while the music 
plays up. Then some one gets on a bench and accuses the 
King of various oflences, such as ill-treating the cattle. 
The King appeals to witnesses and a trial ensues, at the 
close of which the judge, who carries a white wand as his 

^ Keinsberg • Duringbfeld, Fest-Kal- ^ Reinsberg-Diiringsfeld, Fest^Kal' 

emkr atis Bohmen^ l^. 61 ; W. Mann- eiuUr aus Boh men, p. 263 ; W. Mann- 
hardt, Baumkultus^ p. 336 sq. hardt, BaumkuUus^ p. 343. 





badge of office, pronounces a verdict of "guilty" or "not 
guilty." If the verdict is "guilty," the judge breaks his 
wand, the King kneels on a white cloth, all heads are bared, 
and a soldier sets three or four hats, one above the other, on 
his Majesty's head. The judge then pronounces the word 
"guilty" thrice in a loud voice, and orders the crier to 
behead the King. The crier obeys by striking off the King's 
hats with his wooden sword.^ 

But perhaps, for our purpose, the most instructive of 
these mimic executions is the following Bohemian one, 
which has been in part described already.^ In some places 
of the Pilsen district (Bohemia) on Whit-Monday the King 
is dressed in bark, ornamented with flowers and ribbons ; he 
wears a crown of gilt paper and rides a horse, which is 
also decked with flowers. Attended by a judge, an exe- 
cutioner, and other characters, and followed by a train of 
soldiers, all mounted, he rides to the village square, where a 
hut or arbour of green boughs has been erected under the 
May-trees, which are firs, freshly cut, peeled to the top, and 
dressed with flowers and ribbons. After the dames and 
maidens of the village have been criticised and a frog 
beheaded, in the way already described, the cavalcade rides 
to a place previously determined upon, in a straight, broad 
street Here they draw up in two lines and the King takes 
to flight He is given a short start and rides off at full 
speed, pursued by the whole troop. If they fail to catch 
him he remains King for another year, and his companions 
must pay his score at the ale-house in the evening. But if 
they overtake and catch him he is scourged with hazel rods 
or beaten with the wooden swords and compelled to dis- 
mount Then the executioner asks, " Shall I behead this 
King ? " The answer is given, " Behead him " ; the execu- 
tioner brandishes his axe, and with the words, " One, two, 
three, let the King headless be ! " he strikes off the King's 
crown. Amid the loud cries of the bystanders the King 
sinks to the ground ; then he is laid on a bier and carried 
to the nearest farmhouse.' 






^ Rcinsberg-Duringsfeld, Ftst'KaU 
tnder aus Bohment p. 269 sq, 
* Vol. i. p. 218 sq. 

' Reinsb«r]g-Dunngsfdd, Fest-Kol" 
ender aus Bohmen^ p. 264 sq, ; \V. 
Mannhardt, Baumkultus, p. 353 sq. 


I In most of the personages who are thus slain in mimicry 

I it is impossible not to recognise representatives of the tree- 
! spirit or spirit of vegetation, as he is supposed to manifest 
himself in spring. The bark, leaves, and flowers in which 
the actors are dressed, and the season of the year at which 
they appear, show that they belong to the same class as the 
Grass King, King of the May, Jack-in-the-Green, and other 
representatives of the vernal spirit of vegetation which we 
examined in the first chapter. As if to remove any possible 
doubt on this head, we find that in two cases ^ these slain 
men are brought into direct connection with May- trees, 
which are (as we have seen) the impersonal, as the May 
King, Grass King, and so forth, are the personal representa- 
tives of the tree-spirit. The drenching of the Pfingstl with 
water and his wading up to the middle into the brook are, 
therefore, no doubt rain-charms like those which have been 
already described.* 

But if these personages represent, as they certainly do, 
the spirit of vegetation in spring, the question arises. Why 
kill them? What is the object of slaying the spirit of 
v^etation at any time and above all in spring, when his 
services are most wanted ? The only answer to this ques- 
tion seems to be given in the explanation already proposed 
of the custom of killing the divine king or priest. The 
divine life, incarnate in a material and mortal body, is liable 
to be tainted and corrupted by the weakness of the frail 
medium in which it is for a time enshrined ; and if it is .to 
be saved from the increasing enfeeblement which it must 
necessarily share with its human incarnation as he advances 
in years, it must be detached from him before, or at least as 
soon as, he exhibits signs of decay, in order to be transferred 
to a vigorous successor. This is done by killing the old 
representative of the god and conveying the divine spirit 
from him to a new incarnation. The killing of the god, that 
is, of his human incarnation, is, therefore, merely a necessary 
step to his revival or resurrection in a better form. Far 
from being an extinction of the divine spirit, it is only the 
b^inning of a purer and stronger manifestation of it If 
this explanation holds good of the custom of killing divine 

* See pp. 61, 64. - Sec p. 94 sqq, 


' • 




kings and priests in general, it is still more obviously 
applicable to the custom of annually killing the representa- 
tive of the tree-spirit or spirit of vegetation in spring. For 
the decay of plant life in winter is readily interpreted by 
primitive man as an enfeeblement of the spirit of vegetation ; 
the spirit has (he thinks) grown old and weak and must 
therefore be renovated by being slain and brought to life in 
a younger and fresher form. Thus the killing of the repre- 
sentative of the tree-spirit in spring is regarded as a means 
to promote and quicken the growth of vegetation. For the 
killing of the tree -spirit is associated always (we must 
suppose) implicitly, and sometimes explicitly also, with a 
revival or resurrection of him in a more youthful and 
vigorous form. Thus in the Saxon and Thiiringen custom, 
after the Wild Man has been shot he is brought to life 
again by a doctor ;^ and in the Wurmlingen ceremony there 
figfures a Dr. Iron -Beard, who probably once played a 
similar part ; certainly in another spring ceremony (to be 
described presently) Dr. Iron-Beard pretends to restore a 
dead man to life. But of this revival or resurrection of 
the god we shall have more to say anon. 

The points of similarity between these North European 
personages and the subject of our inquiry — the King of 
the Wood or priest of Nemi — are sufficiently striking. In 
these northern maskers we see kings, whose dress of bark 
and leaves, along with the hut of green boughs and the 
fir-trees under which they hold their court, proclaim them 
unmistakably as, like their Italian counterpart. Kings of 
the Wood. Like him they die a violent death ; but like 
him they may escape from it for a time by their bodily 
strength and agility ; for in several of these northern customs 
the flight and pursuit of the king is a prominent part of the 
ceremony, and in one case at least if the king can outrun 
his pursuers he retains his life and his office for another 
year. In this last case, in fact, the king holds office on 
condition of running for his life once a year, just as the 
King of Calicut in later times held office on condition of 
defending his life against all comers once every twelve 
years, and just as the priest of Nemi held office on condition 

^ See above, p. 62. 



of defending himself against any assault at any time. In 
all these cases the life of the god -man is prolonged on 
condition of showing, in a severe physical contest of fight or 
flight, that his bodily strength is not decayed, and that, 
therefore, the violent death, which sooner or later is inevit- 
able, may for the present be postponed. With regard to 
flight it is noticeable that flight figured conspicuously both 
in the legend and in the practice of the King of the Wood. 
He had to be a runaway slave in memory of the flight 
of Orestes, the traditional founder of the worship ; hence 
the Kings of the Wood are described by an ancient writer 
as " both strong of hand and fleet of foot."^ Perhaps if we 
knew the ritual of the Arician grove fully we might find that 
the king was allowed a chance for his life by flight, like his 
Bohemian brother. We may conjecture that the annual 
flight of the priestly king at Rome {regifugium)^ was at first 
a flight of the same kind ; in other words, that he was 
originally one of those divine kings who are either put to 
death after a fixed period or allowed to prove by the strong 
hand or the fleet foot that their divinity is vigorous and 
unimpaired. One more point of resemblance may be noted 
between the Italian King of the Wood and his northern 
counterparts. In Saxony and Thiiringen the representative 
of the tree-spirit, after being killed, is brought to life again 
by a doctor. This is exactly what legend affirmed to have 
happened to the first King of the Wood at Nemi, Hippolytus 
or Virbius, who after he had been killed by his horses was 
restored to life by the physician Aesculapius.' Such a 
l^end tallies well with the theory that the slaying of the 
King of the Wood was only a step to his revival or resurrec- 
tion in his successor. 

It has been assumed that the mock killing of the Wild 
Man and of the King in North European folk-custom is 
a modem substitute for an ancient custom of killing them 
in earnest Those who best know the tenacity of life 
possessed by folk-custom and its tendency, with the growth 
of civilisation, to dwindle from solemn ritual into mere 
pageant and pastime, will be least likely to question the 

* Ovid, Fasti ^ iii. 271. 
^ Marquardt, Romische Staatwerwaltimg^ iii.- 323 sq. ^ See above, p. 6. 




truth of this assumption. That human sacrifices were 
commonly offered by the ancestors of the civilised races of 
North Europe (Celts, Teutons, and Slavs) is certain.* It 
is not, therefore, surprising that the modem peasant should 
do in mimicry what his forefathers did in reality. We know 
as a matter of fact that in other parts of the world mock 
human sacrifices have been substituted for real ones. Thus 
in Minahassa, a district of Celebes, human victims used to 
be regularly sacrificed at certain festivals, but through Dutch 
influence the custom was abolished and a sham sacrifice 
substituted for it The victim was seated in a chair and all 
the usual preparations were made for sacrificing him, but at 
the critical moment, when the chief priest had heaved up his 
flashing swords (for he wielded two of them) to deal the 
fatal stroke, his assistants sprang forward, their hands wrapt 
in cloths, to grasp and arrest the descending blades. The 
precaution was necessary, for the priest was wound up to 
such a pitch of excitement that if left alone he might have 
consummated the sacrifice. Afterwards an effigy, made out 
of the stem of a banana-tree, was substituted for the human 
victim ; and the blood, which might not be wanting, was 
supplied by fowls.^ Captain Bourke was informed by an old 
chief that the Indians of Arizona used to offer human sacrifices 
at the Feast of Fire when the days are shortest The victim 
had his throat cut, his breast opened, and his heart taken 
out by one of the priests. This custom was abolished by 
the Mexicans, but for a long time afterwards a modified form 
of it was secretly observed as follows. The victim, generally 
a young man, had his throat cut, and blood was allowed to 
flow freely ; but the medicine-men sprinkled ** medicine " on 
the gash, which soon healed up, and the man recovered.' 
So in the ritual of Artemis at Halae in Attica, a man's 
throat was cut and the blood allowed to gush out, but he 
was not killed.^ At the funeral of a chief in Nias slaves 

> Caesar, BelL Call, vi. i6 ; Adam 
of Bremen, Descript. fnsul, AquiL c. 27; 
Olaus Magnus, iii. 6 ; Grimm, Deutsche 
Afyt/iohf^t^i,l$sqq.\ Mone, Cesehichte 
des ntnrlischin Heidenikums, i. 69, 1 19, 
120, 149, 187 sq, 

^ H. J. Tcndeloo, •« Vcrklaring van 
het zoogenaamd Oud-AlfoerschTeeken- 

schrift," Mededeelingen van wege het 
Nederlandsehe ZemUUnggenecisehap^ 
XXX vi. (1892), p. 338 jf. 

' J. G. Boarke, Snake Da$ue of the 
Moquis of Arizona^ p. 196 sq. 

* Euripides, Iphig, in Taur. 1458 


are sacrificed ; a little of their hair is cut off, and then they 
are beheaded. The victims are generally purchased for the 
purpose, and their number is proportioned to the wealth and 
power of the deceased. But if the number required is 
excessively great or cannot be procured, some of the chiefs 
own slaves undergo a sham sacrifice. They are told, and 
believe, that they are about to be decapitated ; their heads 
are placed on a log and their necks struck with the back of 
a sword. The fright drives some of them crazy .^ When a 
Hindoo has killed or ill-treated an ape, a bird of prey of a 
certain kind, or a cobra capella, in the presence of the 
worshippers of Vishnu, he must expiate his offence by the 
pretended sacrifice and resurrection of a human being. An 
incision is made in the victim's arm, the blood flows, he 
grows faint, falls, and feigns to die. Afterwards he is 
brought to life by being sprinkled with blood drawn from 
the thigh of a worshipper of Vishnu. The crowd of spec- 
tators is fully convinced of the reality of this simulated 
death and resurrection.* In Samoa, where every family had 
its god incarnate in one or more species of animals, any 
disrespect shown to the worshipful animal, either by members 
of the kin or by a stranger in their presence, had to be 
atoned for by pretending to bake one of the family in a cold 
oven as a burnt sacrifice to appease the wrath of the offended 
god. For example, if a stranger staying in a household 
whose god was incarnate in cuttle-fish were to catch and 
cook one of these creatures, or if a member of the family 
had been present where a cuttle-fish was eaten, the family 
would meet in solemn conclave and choose a man or woman 
to go and lie down in a cold oven, where he would be covered 
over with leaves, just as if he were really being baked. 
While this mock sacrifice was being carried out the family 
prayed : " O bald-headed Cuttle-fish I forgive what has been 
done, it was all the work of a stranger." If they had not 
thus abased themselves before the divine cuttle-fish, he would 
undoubtedly have come and been the death of somebody by 

1 Nieuwenhuisen en Rosenberg, Nicu^ p. 282 sq, 
"Verslag omtrcnt het eiland Nias,'* 

Verhand€ling€n van het Baiav. Cenooi- ' J. A. Dubois, A/trurSy Institutions 

schap van Kunsten en Wetensc happen ^ et Cirimonies des Peuples de flnde^ i. 

XXX. 43 ; E. Modigliani, Unviagj^io a 151 i^/* 




making a cuttle-fish to grow in his inside.^ Sometimes, as in 
Minahassa, the pretended sacrifice is carried out, not on a living 
person, but on an effigy. At the City of the Sun in ancient 
Egypt three men used to be sacrificed every day, after the 
priests had stripped and examined them, like calves, to see 
whether they were without blemish and fit for the altar. But 
King Amasis ordered waxen images to be substituted for the 
human victims.* An Indian law-book, the Calica Puran^ 
prescribes that when the sacrifice of lions, tigers, or human 
beings is required, an image of a lion, tiger, or man shall be 
made with butter, paste, or barley meal, and sacrificed 
instead.' Some of the Gonds of India formerly offered 
human sacrifices ; they now sacrifice straw-men, which are 
found to answer the purpose just as well.* Colonel Dalton 
was told that in some of their villages the Bhagats " annually 
make an image of a man in wood, put clothes and omamen£s 
on it, and present it before the altar of a MahAdeo. The 
person who officiates as priest on the occasion says : ' O 
Mahddeo, we sacrifice this man to you according to ancient 
.customs. Give us rain in due season, and a plentiful harvest' 
Then with one stroke of the axe the head of the image is 
struck off, and the body is removed and buried." ^ 


§ 3* Carrying out Death 

Thus far I have offered an explanation of the rule which 
required that the priest of Nemi should be slain by his 
successor. The explanation claims to be no more than 
probable ; our scanty knowledge of the custom and of its 
history forbids it to be more. But its probability will be 
augmented in proportion to the extent to which the motives 
and modes of thought which it assumes can be proved to 
have operated in primitive society. Hitherto the god with 
whose death and resurrection we have been chiefly concerned 
has been the tree-god. Tree-worship may perhaps be 

> G. Turner, Samoa^ p. 31 sq, \ 
compare pp. 38, 58, 59, 69 sq,^ 72. 

* Porphyry, De abstifuntia^ »»• 55» 
citing Manetho as his authority. 

• "The Rudhiridhyiiyi, or san- 
guinary chapter," translated from the 

Calica Puran by W. C Blaquicre, in 
Asiaiick KesearcAes^ ▼. 376 (8vo ed. , 
London, 1807). 

* Dalton, Ethnology of Bengal^ p. 

* Dalton, op, ai. p. 258 sq. 


regarded (though this is a conjecture) as occupying an inter- 
mediate place in the history of religion, between the religion 
of the hunter and shepherd on the one side, whose gods 
are mostly animals, and the religion of the husbandman 
on the other hand, in whose worship the cultivated plants 
play an important part. If then I can show that the 
custom of killing the god and the belief in his resurrection 
originated, or at least existed, in the hunting and pastoral 
stage of society, when the slain god was an animal, and that 
it survived into the agricultural stage, when the slain god 
was the com or a human being representing the corn, the 
probability of my explanation will have been considerably 
increased. This I shall attempt to do in the remainder 
of this chapter, in the course of which I hope to clear 
up some obscurities which still remain, and to answer 
some objections which may have suggested themselves to 
the reader. 

We start from the point at which we left off — the spring 
customs of European peasantry. Besides the ceremonies 
already described there are two kindred sets of observances 
in which the simulated death of a divine or supernatural 
being is a conspicuous feature. In one of them the being 
whose death is dramatically represented is a personification 
of the Carnival ; in the other it is Death himself. The 
former ceremony falls naturally at the end of the Carnival, 
either on the last day of that merry season, namely 
Shrove Tuesday, or on the first day of Lent, namely 
Ash Wednesday. The date of the other ceremony — the 
Carrying or Driving out of Death, as it is commonly called 
— is not so uniformly fixed. Generally it is the fourth 
Sunday in Lent, which hence goes by the name of Dead 
Sunday ; but in some places the celebration falls a week 
earlier, in others, as among the Czechs of Bohemia, a week 
later, while in certain German villages of Moravia it is held 
on the first Sunday after Easter. Perhaps, as has been 
suggested, the date may originally have been variable, 
depending on the appearance of the first swallow or some 
other herald of the spring. Some writers regard the 
ceremony as Slavonic in its origin. Grimm thought it was 
a festival of the New Year with the old Slavs, who began 




their year in March.^ We shall first take examples of the 
mimic death' of the Carnival, which always falls before the 
other in the calendar. 

At Frosinone, in Latium, about half-way between Rome 
and Naples, the dull monotony of life in a provincial Italian 
town is agreeably broken on the last day of the Carnival by 
the ancient festival known as the Radica. About four 
o'clock in the afternoon the town band, playing lively tunes 
and followed by a great crowd, proceeds to the Piazza del 
Plebiscito, where is the Sub- Prefecture as well as the rest of 
the Government buildings. Here, in the middle of the 
square, the eyes of the expectant multitude are greeted by 
the sight of an immense car decked with many-coloured 
festoons and drawn by four horses. Mounted on the car 
is a huge chair, on which sits enthroned the majestic figure 
of the Carnival, a man of stucco about nine feet high with a 
rubicund and smiling countenance. Enormous boots, a tin 
helmet like those which g^ce the heads of oflficers of the 
Italian marine, and a coat of many colours embellished with 
strange devices, adorn the outward man of this stately 
personage. His left hand rests on the arm of the chair, 
while with his right he gracefully salutes the crowd, being 
moved to this act of civility by a string which is pulled by 
a man who modestly shrinks from publicity under the mercy- 
seat And now the crowd, surging excitedly round the 
car, gfives vent to its feelings in wild cries of joy, gentle 
and simple being mixed up together and all dancing furiously 
the Saltar'ello. A special feature of the festival is that 
every one must carry in his hand what is called a radica 
(" root "), by which is meant a huge leaf of the aloe or rather 
the agave. Any one who ventured into the crowd without 

* Grimm, Deutsche Afythohgie^^ ii. 
645 ; K. Haupt, Sagenbuch tUr Lausitx^ 
ii. 58; Reinsberg-Diiringsfelcl, Fest' 
KaUnder aus Bohmm, p. 86 sq. ; td,^ 
Deu festlicke/ahr, P» 77 ^^^ » Bavaria^ 
Landes- und Volkskunde des Konigrtichs 
Baytrfiy iii. 958 sq, ; Sepp, Die 
Religion der alien Detitschen (Munich, 
1890), p. 67 sq.\ W. Mullcr. Beitrage 
tur Volkskunde der Dt-utschm in 
Mdhren (Vienna and Olmutz, 1 893), 
pp. 258, 353. The fourth Sunday in 

Lent is also known as Mid -Lent, 
because it &lls in the middle of Lent, 
or as Laetare from the first word of the 
liturgy for that day. In the Roman 
calendar it is the Sunday of the Rose 
(Domenica rosae), because on that day 
the Pop>e consecrates a golden rose, 
which he presents to some royal lady. 
In one German village of Transylvania 
the Carrying out of Death takes place 
on Ascension Day. See IjcIow, p. 93 




in IN ITALY 73 

such a leaf would be unceremoniously hustled out of it, 
unless indeed he bore as a substitute a large cabbage at the 
end of a long stick or a bunch of grass curiously plaited. 
When the multitude, after a short turn, has escorted the slow- 
moving car to the gate of the Sub-Prefecture, they halt, and 
the car, jolting over the uneven ground, rumbles into the 
courtyard. A hush now falls on the crowd, their subdued 
voices sounding, according to the description of one who has 
heard them, like the murmur of a troubled sea. All eyes 
are turned anxiously to the door from which the Sub-Prefect 
himself and the other representatives of the majesty of the 
law are expected to issue and pay their homage to the hero 
of the hour. A few moments of suspense and then a storm 
of cheers and hand-clapping salutes the appearance of the 
dignitaries, as they file out and, descending the staircase, 
take their place in the procession. The hymn of the 
Carnival is now thundered out, after which, amid a deafening 
roar, aloe leaves and cabbages are whirled aloft and descend 
impartially on the heads of the just and the unjust, who 
lend fresh zest to the proceedings by engaging in a free 
fight. When these preliminaries have been concluded to the 
satisfaction of all concerned, the procession gets under weigh. 
The rear is brought up by a cart laden with barrels of wine 
and policemen, the latter engaged in the congenial task of 
serving out wine to all who ask for it, while a most inter- 
necine struggle, accompanied by a copious discharge of yells, 
blows, and blasphemy, goes on among the surging crowd 
at the cart's tail in their anxiety not to miss tiie glorious 
opportunity of intoxicating themselves at the public expense. 
Finally, after the procession has paraded the principal streets 
in this majestic manner, the effigy of Carnival is taken to 
the middle of a public square, stripped of his finery, laid 
on a pile of wood, and burnt amid the cries of the multitude, 
who thundering out once more the song of the Carnival 
fling their so-called " roots " on the pyre and give themselves 
up without restraint to the pleasures of the dance.* 

* G. Targioni-Tozzetti, Sergio di night on Shrove Tuesday 1878. Sec 

NavtUiney Canti ed Usanu popolari (J. Pit re, Usi e Costumi, Credenu e 

della Ciociaria (Palermo, 1S91), pp. Prejudizi\ i. 117-119; G. Tredc, 

89-95. A' Palermo an effigy of the Das JicUintum in d^r roniischen 

Carnival {Xattnu) H-as burnt at mid- Kirthty iii. II, note*. 




In the Abruzzi a pasteboard figure of the Carnival is 
carried by four grave-diggers with pipes in their mouths and 
bottles of wine slung at their shoulder-belts. In front walks 
the wife of the Carnival, dressed in mourning and dissolved 
in tears. From time to time the company halts, and while 
the wife addresses the sympathising public, the grave-diggers 
refresh the inner man with a pull at the bottle. In the open 
square the mimic corpse is laid on a pyre, and to the roll of 
drums, the shrill screams of the women, and the gruffer 
cries of the men a light is set to it While the figure burns, 
chestnuts are thrown about among the crowd. Sometimes 
the Carnival is represented by a straw-man at the top of a 
pole which is borne through the town by a troop of 
mummers in the course of the afternoon. When evening 
comes on, four of the mummers hold out a quilt or sheet 
by the comers, and the figure of the Carnival is made to 
tumble into it The procession is then resumed, the 
performers weeping crocodile tears and emphasising the 
poignancy of their grief by the help of saucepans and dinner 
bells. Sometimes, again, in the Abruzzi the dead Carnival 
is personified by a living man who lies in a coffin, attended 
by another who acts the priest and dispenses holy water in 
g^reat profusion from a bathing-tub.^ 

At Lerida, in Catalonia, the funeral of the Carnival was 
witnessed by an English traveller in 1877. On the 
last Sunday of the Carnival a grand procession of infantry, 
cavalry, and maskers of many sorts, some on horseback and 
some in carriages, escorted the grand car of His Grace Pau 
Pi, as the effigy was called, in triumph through the principal 
streets. For three days the revelry ran high, and then at 
midnight on the last day of the Carnival the same procession 
again wound through the streets, but under a different aspect 
and for a different end. The triumphal car was exchanged 
for a hearse, in which reposed the effigy of his dead Grace ; 

^ A. de NinOy Usi e Costumi Abrut- 
sest\ iL i98-2oa The writer omits to 
mention the date of these celebrations. 
No doubt it is either Shrore Tuesday 
or Ash Wednesday. In some parts of 
Piedmont an efHgy of Carnival is burnt 
on the evening of Shrove Tuesday ; in 
others they set fire to tall poplar trees. 

which, stript of their branches and 
surmounted by banners, have been set 
up the day before in public places. 
These trees go by the name of Scarli, 
See G. di Giovanni, Usi^ Credenu e 
Prtgiudizi del Canavese (Palermo, 
1889), pp. 161, 164 sq. 


a troop of maskers, who in the first procession had played 
the part of Students of Folly with many a merry quip and 
jest, now, robed as priests and bishops, paced slowly along 
holding aloft huge lighted tapers and singing a dirge. All 
the mummers wore crape, and all the horsemen carried 
blazing flambeaux. Down the high street, between the 
lofty, many-storeyed and balconied houses, where every 
window, every balcony, every housetop was crammed with 
a dense mass of spectators, all dressed and masked in 
fantastic gorgeousness, the procession took its melancholy 
way. Over the scene flashed and played the shifting cross- 
lights and shadows from the moving torches ; red and blue 
Bengal lights flared up and died out again ; and above the 
trampling of the horses and the measured tread of the 
marching multitude rose the voices of the priests chanting 
the requiem, while the military bands struck in with the 
solemn roll of the muflled drums. On reaching the 
principal square the procession halted, a burlesque 
funeral oration was pronounced over the defunct Pau Pi, 
and the lights were extinguished. Immediately the devil 
and his angels darted from the crowd, seized the body and 
fled away with it, hotly pursued by the whole multitude, 
yelling, screaming, and cheering. Naturally the fiends were 
overtaken and dispersed ; and the sham corpse, rescued 
from their clutches, was laid in a grave that had been made 
ready for its reception. Thus the Carnival of 1877 at 
Lcrida died and was buried.^ 

A ceremony of the same sort is observed in Provence on 
Ash Wednesday. An effigy called Caramantran, whimsically 
attired, is drawn in a chariot or borne on a litter, accom- 
panied by the populace in grotesque costumes, who carry 
gourds full of wine and drain them with all the marks, real 
or affected, of intoxication. At the head of the procession 
are some men disguised as judges and barristers, and a tall 
gaunt personage who masquerades as Lent ; behind them 
follow young people mounted on miserable hacks and attired 
as mourners, who pretend to bewail the fate that is in store 
for Caramantran. In the principal square the procession 
halts, the tribunal is constituted, and Caramantran placed 

' J. S. Campion, On Foot in Sfnin (London, 1879), pp. 291-295. 




at the bar. After a formal trial he is sentenced to death 
amid the groans of the mob; the barrister who defended 
him embraces his client for the last time ; the officers of 
justice do their duty ; the condemned is set with his back to 
a wall and hurried into eternity under a shower of stones. 
The sea or a river receives his mangled remains.^ At Lussac 
in the department of Vienne young people, attired in long 
mourning robes and with woebegone countenances, carry an 
effigy down to the river on Ash Wednesday and throw it 
into the river, crying, "Carnival is dead ! Carnival is dead!*** 
Throughout nearly the whole of the Ardennes it was and 
still is customary on Ash Wednesday to bum an effigy which 
is supposed to. represent the Carnival, while appropriate verses 
are sung round about the blazing figure. Very often an 
attempt is made to fashion the effigy in the likeness of the 
husband who is supposed to be least faithful to his wife of 
any in the village. As might perhaps have been anticipated, 
the distinction of being selected for portraiture under these 
circumstances has a slight tendency to breed domestic jars, 
especially when the portrait is burnt in front of the house 
of the gay deceiver whom it represents, while a powerful 
chorus of caterwauls, groans, and other melodious sounds 
bears public testimony to the opinion which his friends and 
neighbours entertain of his private virtues. In some villages 
of the Ardennes a young man of flesh and blood, dressed up 
in hay and straw, used to act the part of Shrove Tuesday 
{Mardi Gras\ as the personification of the Carnival is often 
called in France after the last day of the period which he 
represents. He was brought before a mock tribunal, and 
being condemned to death was placed with his back to 
a wall, like a soldier at a military execution, and fired at 
with blank cartridges. At Vrigne-aux-Bois one of these 
harmless buffoons, named Thierry, was accidentally killed 
by a wad that had been left in a musket of the firing-party. 
When poor Shrove Tuesday dropped under the fire, the 
applause was loud and long, he did it so naturally ; but 

^ A. de Nore, Coutumes^ Mythes et 

Traditions des Provinces de France^ 

p. 37 sq. The name CaramantraQ b 

thought to be compoundeid of carhne 

entrant y " Lent entering." It is said 

that the effigy of Caramantran is some- 
times burnt (Cortet, Essai snr les fltes 
religieusesy p. 107). 

' L. Pineau, Folk-loro du Poitou 
(Paris, 1892), p. 493. 


when he did not get up again, they ran to him and found 
him a corpse. Since then there have been no more of these 
mock executions in the Ardennes.^ 

In Normandy on the evening of Ash Wednesday it used 
to be the custom to hold a celebration called the Burial of 
Shrove Tuesday. A squalid effigy scantily clothed in rags, 
a battered old hat crushed down on his dirty face, his great 
round paunch stuffed with straw, represented the disreputable 
old rake who after a long course of dissipation was now about 
to suffer for his sins. Hoisted on the shoulders of a sturdy 
fellow, who pretended to stagger under the burden, this 
popular personification of the Carnival promenaded the 
streets for the last time in a manner the reverse of triumphal. 
Preceded by a drummer and accompanied by a jeering rabble, 
among whom the urchins and all the tag-rag and bobtail of 
the town mustered in great force, the figure was carried about 
by the flickering light of torches to the discordant din of 
shovels and tongs, pots and pans, horns and kettles, 
mingled with hootings, groans, and hisses. From time to 
time the procession halted, and a champion of morality 
accused the broken-down old sinner of all the excesses he 
had committed and for which he was now about to be burned 
alive. The culprit, having nothing to urge in his own defence, 
was thrown on a heap of straw, a torch was put to it, and 
a great blaze shot up, to the delight of the children who 
frisked round it screaming out some old popular verses about 
the death of the Carnival. Sometimes the effigy was rolled 
down the slope of a hill before being burnt.* At Saint-L6 
the ragged effigy of Shrove Tuesday was followed by his 
widow, a big burly lout dressed as a woman with a crape 
veil, who emitted sounds of lamentation and woe in a sten- 
torian voice. After being carried about the streets on a litter 
attended by a crowd of maskers, the figure was thrown into 
the River Vire. The final scene has been graphically described 
by Madame Octave Feuillet as she witnessed it in her child- 
hood some fifty years ago. " My parents invited friends to 

' A. Meyrac, Traditions^ Legendeset general in France. 
Cofties des Ardennes (Charleville, 1 890), 

p. 63. According to the writer, the ^ J. I-»ccceur, Esquisses dti Socage 

custom of burning an effigy of Shrove Normand (Cond^-sur-Noireau, 1883- 

Tuesday or the Carnival is pretty 1887), ii. 148-150. 




see, from the top of the tower of Jeanne Couillard, the funeral 
procession passing. It was there that, quaffing lemonade — 
the only refreshment allowed because of the fast — we wit- 
nessed at nightfall a spectacle of which I shall always 
preserve a lively recollection. At our feet flowed the Vire 
under its old stone bridge. On the middle of the bridge lay 
the figure of Shrove Tuesday on a litter of leaves, surrounded 
by scores of maskers dancing, singing, and carrying torches. 
Some of them in their motley costumes ran along the parapet 
like fiends. The rest, worn out with their revels, sat on the 
posts and dozed. Soon the dancing stopped, and some of 
the troop, seizing a torch, set fire to the effigy, after which 
they flung it into the river with redoubled shouts and clamour. 
The man of straw, soaked with resin, floated away burning 
down the stream of the Vire, lighting up with its funeral fires 
the woods on the bank and the battlements of the old castle 
in which Louis XL and Francis L had slept. When the last 
glimmer of the blazing phantom had vanished, like a falling 
star, at the end of the valley, every one withdrew, crowd and 
maskers alike, and we quitted the ramparts with our guests. 
As we returned home my father sang gaily the old popular 
song: — 

* Shrove Tuesday is dead and his wife has got 
His shabby pocket-handkerchief and his cracked old pot 
Sing high, sing low, 
Shrove Tuesday will come back no more.' 

* He will come back I He will come back ! * we cried warmly, 
clapping our hands ; and he did come back next year, and I 
think I should see him still if, after the lapse of half a century, 
I returned to the land of my birth." * 

In Upper Brittany the burial of Shrove Tuesday or the 
Carnival is sometimes performed in a ceremonious manner. 
Four young fellows carry a straw-man or one of their com- 
panions, and are followed by a funeral procession. A show 
is made of depositing the pretended corpse in the grave, 
after which the bystanders make believe to mourn, crying out 
in melancholy tones, " Ah ! my poor little Shrove Tuesday ! " 
The boy who played the part of Shrove Tuesday bears the 

> Madame OcUve Feuillet, Quelques tmnies de ma Vig^ (PaHs, 1895), pp. 


name for the whole year.^ At Lesneven in Lower Brittany 
it was formerly the custom on Ash Wednesday to burn a 
straw-man, covered with rags, after he had been promenaded 
about the town. He was followed by a representative of 
Shrove Tuesday clothed with sardines and cods' tails.^ In 
Saintonge and Aunis, which correspond roughly to the 
modem departments of Charente, children used to drown or 
bum a figure of the Camival on the morning of Ash 
Wednesday.' The beginning of Lent in England was 
formerly marked by a custom which has now fallen into 
disuse. A figure, made up of straw and cast -off clothes, 
was drawn or carried through the streets amid much noise 
and merriment ; after which it was either bumt, shot at, or 
thrown down a chimney. This image went by the name of 
Jack o* Lent, and was by some supposed to represent Judas 

A Bohemian form of the custom of " Burying the Car- 
nival " has been already described.^ The following Swabian 
form is obviously similar. In the neighbourhood of Tubingen 
on Shrove Tuesday a straw-man, called the Shrovetide Bear, 
is made up ; he is dressed in a pair of old trousers, and a 
fresh black -pudding or two squirts filled with blood are 
inserted in his neck. After a formal condemnation he is 
beheaded, laid in a coffin, and on Ash Wednesday is buried 
in the churchyard. This is called " Burying the Carnival." • 
Amongst some of the Saxons of Transylvania the Camival 
is hung. Thus at Braller on Ash Wednesday or Shrove 
Tuesday two white and two chestnut horses draw a sledge 
on which is placed a straw-man swathed in a white cloth ; 
beside him is a cart-wheel which is kept tuming round. 
Two lads disguised as old men follow the sledge lamenting. 
The rest of the village lads, mounted on horseback and 
decked with ribbons, accompany the procession, which is 

^ Sebillot, Coutumes populaires dc Ash Wednesday in France, see further 

la Haute-Bretagfte^ p. 227 sq. B^renger-F^raud, Superstitions et Sur- 

* A. de Nore, Cotttumes^ Alythes et invances^ iv. 52 sq, 

TrMiitio9is des Fravimes de Fraiue, p. 4 x. F. Thisellon Dyer, British 

z T T xf VT F AT Popular Customs, p. 93. 

' J. L. M. Nogues, Les Maurs 

d^autrefois en Saintonge et en Aunis S*^ P* "^ ^9' 

(Saintes, 1891), p. 60. As to the trial • E. Meier, Deutsche Sagen, Sitten 

and condemnation of the Carni\-al on und Gebraiiche aus Schwaben, p. 371. 




headed by two girls crowned with evergreen and drawn in a 
waggon or sledge. A trial is held under a tree, at which 
lads disguised as soldiers pronounce sentence of death. The 
two old men try to rescue the straw-man and to fly with 
him, but to no purpose ; he is caught by the two girls and 
handed over to the executioner, who hangs him on a tree. 
In vain the old men try to climb up the tree and take him 
down ; they always tumble down, and at last in despair they 
throw themselves on the ground and weep and howl for the 
hanged man. An official then makes a speech in which he 
declares that the Carnival was condemned to death because 
he had done them harm, by wearing out their shoes and 
making them tired and sleepy.* At the " Burial of Carnival " 
in Lechrain, a man dressed as a woman in black clothes is 
carried on a litter or bier by four men ; he is lamented over 
by men disguised as women in black clothes, then thrown 
down before the village dung -heap, drenched with water, 
buried in the dung-heap, and covered with straw.' Similarly 
in Schorzingen, near Schomberg, the " Carnival (Shrovetide) 
Fool " was carried all about the village on a bier, preceded 
by a man dressed in white, and followed by a devil who was 
dressed in black and carried chains, which he clanked. One 
of the train collected gifts. After the procession the Fool 
was buried under straw and dung.' In Rottweil the *' Car- 
nival Fool " is made drunk on Ash Wednesday and buried 
under straw amid loud lamentation.^ In Wurmlingen the 
Fool is represented by a young fellow enveloped in straw, 
who is led about the village by a rope as a •* Bear " on Shrove 
Tuesday and the preceding day. He dances to the flute. 
Then on Ash Wednesday a straw-man is made, placed on a 
trough, carried out of the village to the sound of drums and 
mournful music, and buried in a field.* In Altdorf and 
Weingartcn on Ash Wednesday the Fool, represented by a 
straw-man, is carried about and then thrown into the water 
to the accompaniment of melancholy music. In other 


* J. Hahrich, Zur Volkskunde der 
Siebftiburger Sachsen (Vienna, 1S85), 
p. 2S4 sq. 

' Leoprechting, Aus dem Lechrain ^ 
p. i6i sqq, ; Mannhardt, Baumkulius, 
p. 411. 

' E. Meier, Deutsche Sagen^ Bitten 
und Gebrduche aus Schwahen^ p. 374 ; 
q>. Birlinger, Volksthiimlichcs aus 
Schwahen^ ii. p. 54 xf., § 71. 

*• E. Meier, op, ctt, p. 372. 

^ E. Meier, op. cit, p. 373. 



villages of Swabia the part of fool is played by a live person, 
who is thrown into the water after being carried about in 
procession.^ At Balwe, in Westphalia, a straw-man is made 
on Shrove Tuesday and thrown into the river amid rejoicings. 
This is called, as usual, " Burying the Carnival." ^ At Burge- 
brach, in Bavaria, it used to be customary, as a public pastime, 
to hold a sort of court of justice on Ash Wednesday. The 
accused was a straw-man, on whom was laid the burden of 
all the notorious transgressions that had been committed in 
the course of the year. Twelve chosen maidens sat in 
judgment and pronounced sentence, and a single advocate 
pleaded the cause of the public scapegoat. Finally the 
effigy was burnt, and thus all the offences that had created a 
scandal in the community during the year were symbolically 
atoned for.' We can hardly doubt that this custom of 
burning a straw-man on Ash Wednesday for the sins of a 
whole year is only another form of the custom, observed on 
the same day in so many other places, of burning an effigy 
which is supposed to embody and to be responsible for all 
the excesses committed during the license of the Carnival. 

In Greece a ceremony of the same sort was witnessed at 
Pylos by Mr. Tilton in 1895. On the evening of the last day 
of the Greek Lent, which fell that year on the twenty-fifth 
of February, an ^td^ with a grotesque mask for a face was 
borne about the streets on a bier, preceded by a mock priest 
with long white beard. Other functionaries surrounded the 
bier and two torch-bearers walked in advance. The pro- 
cession moved slowly to melancholy music played by a pipe 
and drum. A final halt was made in the public square, 
where a circular space was kept clear of the surging crowd. 
Here a bonfire was kindled, and round it the priest led a wild 
dance to the same droning music. When the frenzy was at 
its height, the chief performer put tow on the effigy and set 
fire to it, and while it blazed he resumed his mad career, 
brandishing torches and tearing off his venerable beard to 
add fuel to the flames.* On the evening of Shrove Tuesday, 
the Esthonians make a straw figure called metsik or " wood- 

* R Meier, op. cit, pp. 373, 374. ' Bavaria^ Landes- und yp/kskundc 

* A. Kuhn, Safftti^ Gebrimche und des /Cont'xreicks Bayerti^ iii. 958, note. 
Mdrchen aus WestfaUu^ ii. p. 130, 

§ 393- * Folk-lore, vi. (1895), P- 206. 





Spirit " ; one year it is dressed with a man's coat and hat, next 
year with a hood and a petticoat. This figure is stuck on a 
long pole, carried across the boundary of the village with loud 
cries of joy, and fastened to the top of a tree in the wood. 
The ceremony is believed to be a protection against all kinds 
of misfortune.^ 

Sometimes at these Shrovetide or Lenten ceremonies the 
resurrection of the pretended dead person is enacted. Thus, 
in some parts of Swabia on Shrove Tuesday Dr. Iron-Beard 
professes to bleed a sick man, who thereupon falls as dead to 
the ground ; but the doctor at last restores him to life by 
blowing air into him through a tube.^ In the Harz Moun- 
tains, when Carnival is over, a man is laid on a baking-trough 
and carried with dirges to a grave ; but in' the grave a glass 
of brandy is buried instead of the man. A speech is delivered 
and then the people return to the village-green or meeting- 
place, where they smoke the long clay pipes which are 
distributed at funerals. On the morning of Shrove Tuesday 
in the following year the brandy is dug uj> and the festival 
begins by every one tasting the spirit which, as the phrase 
goes, has come to life again.^ 

The ceremony of " Carrying out Death " presents much 
the same features as " Burying the Carnival " ; except that 
the carrying out of Death is generally followed by a cere- 
mony, or at least accompanied by a profession, of bringing 
in Summer, Spring, or Life. Thus in Middle Franken, a 
province of Bavaria, on the fourth Sunday in Lent, the 
village urchins used to make a straw effigy of Death, which 
they carried about with burlesque pomp through the streets, 
and afterwards burned with loud cries beyond the bounds.^ 
In the villages near Erlangen, when the fourth Sunday in 
Lent came round, the peasant girls used to dress themselves 
in all their finery with flowers in their hair. Thus attired 
they repaired to the neighbouring town, carrying puppets 
which were adorned with leaves and covered with white 
cloths. These they took from house to house in pairs, 
stopping at every door where they expected to receive 

* F. J. Wiedemann, Aus dem inncren 
und ausuren Ltben der Eksten^ p. 353. 

' E. Meier, op, cit, p. 374. 

' H. Prohle, Hartbilder (Leipsic, 

1855). P- 54. 
* Bavaria^ Ixindes- und Volkskunde 

dcs .Kbnigreichs Bayern^ iii. 958. 





something, and singing a few lines in which they announced 
that it was Mid-Lent and that they were about to throw 
Death into the water. When they had collected some 
trifling gratuities they went to the River Regnitz and flung 
the puppets representing Death into the stream. This was 
done to ensure a fruitful and prosperous year ; further, it was 
considered a safeguard against pestilence and sudden death.^ 
At Nuremberg girls of seven to eighteen years of age go 
through the streets bearing a little open coffin, in which is a 
doll hidden under a shroud. Others carry a beech branch, 
with an apple fastened to it for a head, in an open box. 
They sing, " We carry Death into the water, it is well," or 
" We carry Death into the water, carry him in and out 
again." ^ In other parts of Bavaria the ceremony took 
place on the Saturday before the fifth Sunday in Lent, and 
the performers were boys or girls, according to the sex of 
the last person who died in the village. The figure was 
thrown into water or buried in a secret place, for example 
under moss in the forest, that no one might find Death 
again. Then early on Sunday morning the children 
went from house to house singing a song in which they 
announced the glad tidings that Death was gone.' In 
some villages of Thiiringen on the fourth Sunday of 
Lent, the children used to carry a puppet of birchen twigs 
through the village, and then threw it into a pool, while they 
sang, " We carry the old Death out behind the herdsman's 
old house ; we have got Summer, and Kroden's (?) power is 
destroyed."* In one village of Thiiringen (Dobschwitz near 
Gera), the ceremony of " Driving out Death " is still annually 
observed on the first of March. The young people make up 
a figure of straw or the like materials, dress it in old clothes, 
which they have begged from houses in the village, and 
carry it out and throw it into the river. On returning 
to the village they break the good news to the people, 
and receive eggs and other victuals as a reward. In 
other villages of Thiiringen, in which the population was 

1 Bavaria^ Landes- uiid Volkskunde ^ Sepp, Die Religion der alien 

des Konigreichs Bayerii^ iii. 958. Deutschcn, p. 67. 

^ Grimm, Deutsche Mythologies^ ii. ** Aug. \Vitzschel« Sagen^ Sitten 

639 5q,\ Mannhardt, Baumkulttu, tnid Gebriuche aus ThiiriMgen^^, igy 
p. 412. 




originally Slavonic, the carrying out of the puppet is accom- 
panied with the singing of a song, which begins, " Now we 
carry Death out of the village and Spring into the village." ^ 
In Bohemia the children go out with a straw-man, represent- 
ing Death, to the end of the village, where they burn it, 
singing — 

" Now carry we Death out of the village, 
The new Summer into the village, 
Welcome, dear Summer, 
Green little com." - 

At Tabor in Bohemia the figure of Death is carried out 
of the town and flung from a high rock into the water, 
while they sing — 

<* Death swims on the water, 
Summer will soon be here, 
We carried Death away for you. 
We brought the Summer. 
And do thou, O holy Marketa, 
Give us a good year 
For wheat and for rye." • 

In other parts of Bohemia they carry Death to the end of 
the village, singing — 

" We carry Death out of the village, 
And the New Year into the village. 
Dear Spring, we bid you welcome. 
Green grass, we bid you welcome." 

Behind the village they erect a pyre, on which they bum the 
straw figure, reviling and scoffing at it the while. Then 
they return, singing — 

** We have carried away Death, 
And brought Life back. 
He has taken up his quarters in the village. 
Therefore sing joyous songs." ^ 

In some German villages of Moravia, as in Jassnitz and 
Seitendorf, the young folk assemble on the third Sunday in 
Lent and fashion a straw-man, who is generally adorned 


* Witzschel, op, at, p. 199. 

* Grimm, Deutsche Mythohgie^^ iu 

' Reinsberg-Diiringsfeld, Fest-Kal- 
ender aus Bchmen, p. 90 s^. 
^ Ibid, p. 91. 


With a fur cap and a pair of old leathern hose, if such are 
to be had. The ^^^y is then hoisted on a pole and carried 
by the lads and lasses out into the open fields. On the 
way they sing a song, in which it is said that they are 
carrying Death away and bringing dear Summer into the 
house, and with Summer the May and the flowers. On 
reaching an appointed place they dance in a circle round 
the effigy with loud shouts and screams, then suddenly rush 
at it and tear it to pieces with their hands. Lastly, the 
pieces are thrown together in a heap, the pole is broken, and 
fire is set to the whole. While it burns the troop dances 
merrily round it, rejoicing at the victory won by Spring ; 
and when the fire has nearly died out they go to the house- 
holders to beg for a present of eggs wherewith to hold a 
feast, taking care to give as a reason for the request that 
they have carried Death out and away.^ 

The effigy of Death is often r^arded with fear and 
treated with marks of hatred and contempt. In Lusatia 
the figure is sometimes made to look in at the window of a 
house, and it is believed that some one in the house will die 
within the year unless his life is redeemed by the payment 
of money.* . Again, after throwing the effigy away, the 
bearers sometimes run home lest Death should follow them, 
and if one of them falls in running, it is believed that he 
will die within the year.* At Chrudim, in Bohemia, the 
figure of Death is made out of a cross, with a head and 
mask stuck at the top, and a shirt stretched out on it. On 
the fifth Sunday in Lent the boys take this effigy to the 
nearest brook or pool, and standing in a line throw it into 
the water. Then they all plunge in after it ; but as soon as 
it is caught no one more may enter the water. The boy 
who did not enter the water or entered it last will die within 
the year, and he is obliged to carry the Death back to the 
village. The effigy is then burned."* On the other hand it 
is believed that no one will die within the year in the house 

* W. Muller, Beitriige zur Volks- •' Grimm, op, at. ii. 640, 643. 
kunde der Dfutschen in Miihrcn^ pp. 

3 5 3*3 5 5- ^ Vernalekcn, My that und Brdmke 

* Grimm, op, cit. ii. 644 ; K. da Volkes in Oesferreich^ p. 294 sq, ; 
Haupt, Sasiittbtt^h dcr Lausitz, ii. Kcinsbcrg-Diiringsfcid, Fest- /Calender 
55. aits Bohmen^ p. 90. 




out of which the figure of Death has been carried ; ^ and the 
village out of which Death has been driven is sometimes 
supposed to be protected against sickness and plague.* In 
some villages of Austrian Silesia on the Saturday before 
Dead Sunday an effigy is made of old clothes, hay, and 
straw, for the purpose of driving Death out of the village. 
On Sunday the people, armed with sticks and straps, 
assemble before the house where the figure is lodged. Four 
lads then dra^ the effigy by cords through the village amid 
exultant shouts, while all the others beat it with their sticks 
and straps. On reaching a field which belongs to a neigh- 
bouring village they lay down the figure, cudgel it soundly, 
and scatter the fragments over the field. The people believe 
that the village from which Death has been thus carried out 
will be safe from any infectious disease for the whole yean* 
In villages of the Wagstadt district, Austrian Silesia, girls 
and boys together dress up a man of straw called Death on 
the fifth Sunday of Lent, which hence goes by the name of 
Dead or Black Sunday. After arraying the effigy in their 
best clothes they carry it in procession on a pole to the 
boundary of the village, where they strip it, tear it in pieces, 
and burn it.^ In Slavonia the fig^ure of Death, is cudgelled 
and then rent in two.* In Poland the effigy, made of hemp 
and straw, is flung into a pool or swamp witH the words 
" The devil take thee." « 

The custom of " sawing the Old Woman," which is or 
used to be observed in Italy, France, and Spain on the fourth 
Sunday in Lent, is doubtless, as Grimm supposes, merely 
another form of the custom of "Carrying out Death." A 
great hideous figure representing the oldest woman of the 
village was dragged out and sawn in two, amid a prodigious 
noise made with cow-bells, pots and pans, and so forth.^ In 
Palermo the representation used to be still more lifelike. 
At Mid-Lent an old woman was drawn through the streets 

^ Grimm, Dmtscke Mytholo^e^^ ii. 

s J. A. E. Kohler, Volksbratuk, 
Abergiauben^ Sagen und andre alte 
Ueberlieferttngtn im Voigtlande^ p. 

^ Reinsberg-Duringsfeld, Das fest* 

Kchejahr^ p. 80. 

* A. Peter, VolkstkHmHches atts Os- 
ierreichiuh'SchUsien, it 281. 

* Ralston, Songs of the Russian 
People^ p. 211. * IhitL p. 210. 

* Grimm, Deutsche Mythologief ii. 
652 ; H. Usener, «IUlische Mythen," 
Rheinischfs Museum^ N.F., xxx. 
(1875), p. 191 sq. 



on a cart, attended by two men dressed in the costume of 
the Compagnia d^ Biancki, a society or religious order whose 
function it was to attend and console prisoners condemned 
to death. A scaffold was erected in a public square ; the 
old woman mounted it, and two mock executioners proceeded, 
amid a storm of huzzas and hand-clapping, to saw through 
her neck or rather through a bladder of blood which had 
been previously fitted to her neck. The blood gushed out 
and the old woman pretended to swoon and die. The last 
of these mock executions took place in 173 7 J In Florence, 
during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Old Woman 
was represented by a figure stuffed with walnuts and dried 
figs and fastened to the top of a ladder. At Mid-Lent this 
effigy was sawn through the middle under the Loggie of the 
Mercato Nuovo, and as the dried fruits tumbled out they 
were scrambled for by the crowd. A trace of the custom is 
still to be seen in the practice, observed by urchins, of 
secretly pinning paper ladders to the shoulders of women of 
the lower classes who happen to show themselves in the 
streets on the morning of Mid-Lent* A similar custom is 
observed by urchins in Rome ; and at Naples on the first of 
April boys cut strips of cloth into the shape of saws, smear 
them with gypsum, and strike passers-by with their " saws " 
on the back, thus imprinting the figure of a saw upon their 
clothes.* At Montalto, in Calabria, boys go about at Mid- 
Lent with little saws made of cane and jeer at old people, 
who therefore generally stay indoors on that day. The 
Calabrian women meet together at this time and feast on 
figs, chestnuts, honey, and so forth ; this they call " sawing 
the Old Woman " — a reminiscence probably of a custom 
like the old Florentine one.* In Lombardy the Thursday 
of Mid-Lent is known as the Day of the Old Wives [il 
giomo delle Vecchte), The children run about crying out for 
the oldest woman, whom they wish to burn ; and failing to 
possess themselves of the original, they make a puppet 
representing her, which, in the evening, is consumed on a 

< G. VxXxt, Speltacoli € feste popolari ^ H. Uscncr, op, cii. p. 193. 

sinliane (Palermo, 1881), p. 207 sq, ; ^ Vincenzo Dorsa, La tradiuone 

id., Usi e Costumi^ i. 107 sq. ;p'eco-iaiitia negU usi e mile crtdatze 

* Arckivio per h studio delle tradi- popolari delta Calabria citeriort (Co- 

zioni popolari, iv. (1885), p. 294 sq, senza, 1884), p. 43 sq. 




bonfire. On the Lake of Garda, the blaze of hght flaring at 
different points on the hills produces a picturesque effect.^ 

In Berry, a region of Central France, the custom of " saw- 
ing the Old Woman " at Mid-Lent used to be popular, and 
has probably not wholly died out even now. Here the name 
of " Fairs of the old Wives " was given to certain fairs held 
in Lent, at which children were made to believe that they 
would see the Old Woman of Mid-Lent split or sawn asunder. 
At Argenton and Cluis-Dessus, when Mid-Lent has come, 
children of ten or twelve years of age scour the streets with 
wooden swords, pursue the old crones whom they meet, 
and even try to break into the houses where ancient dames 
are known to live. Passers-by, who see the children thus 
engaged, say, "They are going to cut or sabre the Old 
Woman." Meantime, the old wives take care to keep out of 
sight as much as possible. When the children of Cluis- 
Dessus have gone their rounds, and the day draws towards 
evening, they repair to Cluis-Dessous, where they mould a 
rude figure of an old woman out of clay, hew it in pieces 
with their wooden swords, and throw the bits into the river. 
At Bourges on the same day, an effigy representing an old 
woman was formerly sawn in two on the crier's stone in a 
public square. About the middle of the nineteenth century, 
in the same town and on the same day, hundreds of children 
assembled at the Hospital " to see the old woman split or 
divided in two." A religious service was held in the build- 
ing on this occasion, which attracted many idlers. In the 
streets it was not uncommon to hear cries of " Let us cleave 
the Old Wife ! let us cleave the oldest woman of the ward I " 
At Tulle, on the day of Mid-Lent, the people used to inquire 
after the oldest woman in the town, and to tell the children 
that at mid-day punctually she was to be sawn in two at 

In Barcelona on the fourth Sunday in Lent boys run 
about the streets, some with saws, others with billets of wood, 
others again with cloths in which they collect gratuities. 
They sing a song in which it is said that they are looking 


^ E. Martinengo-Cesaresco, in The ^ Laisnel de la Salle, Creyatues ct 

Academy, No. 671, March 14th, 1885, Ugendes du Centre de la France, i. 43 
p. 188. $q. 


for the oldest woman of the city for the purpose of sawing 
her in two in honour of Mid-Lent ; at last, pretending to 
have found her, they saw something in two and burn it. A 
like custom is found amongst the South Slavs. In Lent the 
Croats tell their children that at noon an old woman is being 
sawn in two outside the gates ; and in Carniola also the say- 
ing is current that at Mid-Lent an old woman is taken out 
of the village and sawn in two. The North Slavonian ex- 
pression for keeping Mid-Lent is bdbu rezati^ that is, " sawing 
the Old Wife." ^ 

Among the gypsies of South-Eastern Europe the custom 
of "sawing the Old Woman in two" is observed in a 
very graphic form, not, however, at Mid-Lent, but on the 
afternoon of Palm Sunday. The Old Woman, represented 
by a puppet of straw dressed in women's clothes, is laid 
across a beam in some open place and beaten with clubs 
by the assembled gypsies, after which it is sawn in two 
by a young man and a maiden, both of whom wear a 
disguise. While the effigy is being sawn through, the rest of 
the company dance round it singing songs of various sorts. 
The remains of the figure are finally burnt, and the ashes 
thrown into a stream. The ceremony is supposed by the 
gypsies themselves to be observed in honour of a certain 
Shadow Queen ; hence Palm Sunday goes by the name 
Shadow Day among all the strolling gypsies of Eastern and 
Southern Europe. According to the popular belief, this 
Shadow Queen, of whom the gypsies of to-day have only a 
very vague and confused conception, vanishes underground 
at the appearance of spring, but comes forth again at the 
beginning of winter to plague mankind during that in- 
clement season with sickness, hunger, and death. Among 
the vagrant gypsies of Southern Hungary the effigy is 
regarded as an expiatory and thank offering made to the 
Shadow Queen for having spared the people during the 
winter. In Transylvania the gypsies who live in tents clothe 
the puppet in the cast-off garments of the woman who has 
last become a widow. The widow herself gives the clothes 
gladly for this purpose, because she thinks that being burnt 

* Grimm, Deutsche Myfhoioffie* ii. A*/ieimsches MnseutHy^.T,xx\,(iSji)^ 
652 ; n. Uscner, ** Italischc Mylhcn,'* p. 191 xy. 




they will pass into the possession of her departed husband, 
who will thus have no excuse for returning from the spirit-land 
to visit her. The ashes are thrown by the Transylvanian 
gypsies on the first graveyard that they pass on their journey.^ 
In this gypsy custom the equivalence of the effigy of the Old 
Woman to the effigy of Death in the customs we have just 
been considering comes out very clearly, thus strongly con- 
firming the opinion of Grimm that the practice of " sawing 
the Old Woman " is only another form of the practice of 
" carrying out Death." 

The same perhaps may be said of a somewhat different 
form which the custom assumes in parts of Spain and Italy. 
In Spain it is sometimes usual on Ash Wednesday to 
fashion an effigy of stucco or . pasteboard representing a 
hideous old woman with seven legs, wearing a crown of sorrel 
and spinach, and holding a sceptre in her hand. The seven 
skinny legs stand for the seven weeks of the Lenten fast 
which begins on Ash Wednesday. This monster, proclaimed 
queen of Lent amid the chanting of lugubrious songs, is 
carried in triumph through the crowded streets and public 
places. On reaching the principal square the people put out 
their torches, cease shouting, and disperse. Their revels are 
now ended, and they take a vow to hold no more merry 
meetings until ail the legs of the old woman have fallen one 
by one and she has been beheaded. The effigy is then 
deposited in some place appointed for the purpose, where 
the public is admitted to see it during the whole of Lent 
Every week, on Saturday evening, one of the queen's legs is 
pulled off; and on Holy Saturday, when from every church 
tower the joyous clangour of the bells proclaims the glad 
tidings that Christ is risen, the mutilated body of the fallen 
queen is carried with great solemnity to the principal square 
and publicly beheaded.^ 

A custom of the same sort prevails in various parts of 
Italy. Thus in the Abruzzi they hang a puppet of tow, 
representing Lent, to a cord, which stretches across the street 


' H. von Wislocki, Volksf^iaube unJ 
religibser Branch der Zr^^/zM*/* (Miinster 
L \V., 1 89 1), p. 145 sq. 

' E. Cortct, Esstu sur Us fites 
relif^'eitses, p. 107 sq, ; Laisnel dc la 
Salic, Croyances et Ugendes du dnfre 
de la France^ L 45 sq. 



j from one window to another. Seven feathers are attached 
to the figure, and in its hand it grasps a distaff and spindle. 
Every Saturday in Lent one of the seven feathers is plucked 
out, and on Holy Saturday, while the bells are ringing, a 
string of chestnuts is burnt for the purpose of sending Lent 
and its meagre fare to the devil. In houses, too, it is usual to 
amuse children by cutting the figure of an old woman with 
seven legs out of pasteboard and sticking it beside the 
chimney. The old woman represents Lent, and her seven legs 
are the seven weeks of the fast ; every Saturday one of the 
legs is amputated.^ At Castellamare, to the south of Naples, 
an English lady observed a rude puppet dangling from a string 
which spanned one of the narrow streets of the old town, being 
fastened at either end, high overhead, to the upper part of the 
many-storied houses. The puppet, about a foot long, was 
dressed all in black, rather like a nun, and from the skirts 
projected five or six feathers which bore a certain resemblance 
to legs. A peasant being asked what these things meant, 
replied with Italian vagueness, " It is only Lent." Further 
inquiries, however, elicited the information that at the end of 
every week in Lent one of the feather legs was pulled off the 
puppet, and that the puppet was finally destroyed on the last 
day of Lent* 

In the preceding ceremonies the return of Spring, 
Summer, or Life, as a sequel to the expulsion of Death, is 
only implied or at most announced. In the following 
ceremonies it is plainly enacted. Thus in some parts of 
Bohemia the effigy of Death is buried at sunset ; then the 
girls go out into the wood and cut down a young tree with 
a g^een crown, hang a doll dressed as a woman on it, deck 
the whole with green, red, and white ribbons, and march in 
procession with their LUo (Summer) into the village, collect- 
ing gifls and singing — 

" We carried Death out of the village. 
We are carrying Summer into the village." •"* 

' A. dc Nino, Usi e Costutni Abruz- ' Reinsberg-Duringsfeld, Fest-Kalen- 

utt\ ii. 203-205 (Florence, 1881). tferaus Bohnten, p. 89 sq. ; W. Mann- 

hardt, Baumkultus^ p. 156. This 

' Lucy E. Broad wood, in Folk-lore^ custom has been already referred to. 
iv. (1893), P- 390. See vol. i. p. 208. 


In many Silesian villages the figure of Death, after being 
treated with respect, is stript of its clothes and flung with 
curses into the water, or torn to pieces in a field. Then a 
fir-tree adorned with ribbons, coloured egg-shells, and motley 
bits of cloth, is carried through the streets by boys who 
collect pennies and sing — 

" We have carried Death out, 
We are bringing the dear Summer back, 
The Summer and the May 
And all the flowers gay." ^ 

At Eisenach on the fourth Sunday in Lent young 
people used to fasten a straw-man, representing Death, to a 
wheel, which they trundled to the top of a hill. Then setting 
fire to the figure they allowed it and the wheel to roll down \ 
the slope. Next they cut a tall fir-tree, tricked it out with j 
ribbons, and set it up in the plain. The men then climbed 
the tree to fetch down the ribbons.* In Upper Lusatia the 
figure of Death, made of straw and rags, is dressed in a veil 
furnished by the last bride and a shirt provided by the house 
in which the last death took place. Thus arrayed the figure 
is stuck on the end of a long pole and carried at full speed 
by the tallest and strongest girl, while the rest pelt the effigy 
with sticks and stones. Whoever hits it will be sure to live 
through the year. In this way Death is carried out of the 
village and thrown into the water or over the boundary of 
the next village. On their way home each one breaks a 
green branch and carries it gaily with him till he reaches the 
village, when he throws it away. Sometimes the young 
people of the next village, upon whose land the figure has 
been thrown, run after them and hurl it back, not wishing to 
have Death among them. Hence the two parties occasionally 
come to blows.' 

In these cases Death is represented by the puppet which 
is thrown away. Summer or Life by the branches or trees 
which are brought back. But sometimes a new potency of 

' Reinsberg-Duringsfeld, Das /est- com|)are p. 297 st/q. 
lichi Jahr^ p. 82 ; Philo vom WaUlc, ^ Grimm, Dtutscht Mythoio^U^^ ii. 

SchUsien in Sai^e utid Branch (NM)., 643 iq. ; K. Haupt, Sagenbuch dtr 

preface dated 1883), p. 122. Lausitz^W, 54 i^. ; Mannhardt, /ftf//w- 

- Witzschcl, Sagen, Sitten und kuUus^ P* 4^2 jy. ; Ralston, Songs of 

Gebrdiicht ans Thiiringen^ p. 192 i^., the Russian Peopk^ p. 21 1. 



life seems to be attributed to the image of Death itself, and 
by a kind of resurrection it becomes the instrument of the 
general revival. Thus in some parts of Lusatia women alone 
are concerned in carrying out Death, and suffer no male to 
meddle with it. Attired in mourning, which they wear the 
whole day, they make a puppet of straw, clothe it in a white 
shirt, and give it a broom in one hand and a scythe in 
the other. Singing songs and pursued by urchins throwing 
stones, they carry the puppet to the village boundary, where 
they tear it in pieces. Then they cut down a fine tree, hang 
the shirt on it, and carry it home singing.^ 

On the Feast of Ascension the Saxons of Braller, a 
village of Transylvania not far from Hermanstadt, observe 
the ceremony of "carrying out Death" in the following 
manner. After morning service all the school girls repair 
to the house of one of their number, and there dress 
up the Death. This is done by tying a threshed -out 
sheaf of com into a rough semblance of a head and 
body, while the arms are simulated by a broomstick thrust 
through it horizontally. The figure is dressed in the holiday 
attire of a young peasant woman, with a red hood, silver 
brooches, and a profusion of ribbons at the arms and breast. 
The girls bustle at their work, for soon the bells will be ring- 
ing to vespers, and the Death must be ready in time to be 
placed at the open window, that all the people may see it on 
their way to church. When vespers are over, the longed-for 
moment has come for the first procession with the Death to 
begin ; it is a privilege that belongs to the school-girls alone. 
Two of the older girls seize the figure by the arms and walk 
in front ; all the rest follow two and two. Boys may take 
no part in the procession, but they troop after it gazing with 
open-mouthed admiration at the " beautiful Death." So the 
procession goes through all the streets of the village, the girls 
singing in their sweet young voices the old hymn that 
begins : — 

** Goti ffU'in Vaier^ deine Liebe 
Reicht so weit der Himmel ist^' 

to a tune that differs from the ordinary one. When the 

1 Grimm, op. cit, ii. 644 ; K. Haupt, op, tit, ii. 55. 




procession has wound its way through every street, the girls 
go to another house, and having shut the door against the 
eager prying crowd of boys who follow at their heels, they 
strip the Death and pass the naked truss of straw out of the 
window to the boys, who pounce on it, run out of the village 
with it without singing, and fling the dilapidated effigy into 
the neighbouring brook. When this is done, the second scene 
of the little drama begins. While the boys were carrying 
away the Death out of the village, the girls remained in the 
house, and one of them is now dressed in all the finery which 
had been worn by the effigy. Thus arrayed she is led in 
procession through all the streets to the singing of the same 
hymn as before. When the procession is over they all be- 
take themselves to the house of the girl who played the 
leading part. Here a feast awaits them from which also the 
boys are excluded. It is a popular belief that the children may 
safely begin to eat gooseberries and other fruit after the day 
on which Death has thus been carried out ; for Death, which 
up to that time lurked especially in gooseberries, is now 
destroyed. Further, they may now bathe with impunity out 
of doors.^ Very similar is the ceremony which down to 
recent years was observed in some of the German villages of 
Moravia. Boys and girls met on the afternoon of the first 
Sunday after Easter and together fashioned a puppet of straw 
to represent Death. Decked with bright-coloured ribbons 
and cloths and fastened to the top of a long pole, the effigy 
was then borne with singing and clamour to the nearest 
height, where it was stript of its gay attire and thrown or 
rolled down the slope. One of the girls was next dressed in 
the gauds taken from the effigy of Death, and with her at its 
head the procession moved back to the village. In some 
villages the practice is to bury the effigy in the place that has 
the most evil reputation of all the country-side ; others throw 
it into running water.^ 

In the Lusatian ceremony described above,' the tree which 

* J. K. Schuller, Das Todamtragen 
undder MuorUf^ ein Beitragxur KunJe 
sdchsischer Situ umi Sage in SieUn- 
^M/^» (Hermannstadt, 1861), p. 4 sq. 
The description of this ceremony by 
Miss E. Gerard {.The Latid l^yond tJie 

Forest^ ii. 47-49) is plainly borrowed 
from Mr. Schuller*s little work. 

« W. UxkWtx.BeitragtzurVolkskundc 
der Deutschen in Mdhren (Vienna and 
Olmiitz, 1893), p. 258 sq, 

3 p. 93. 

■ ■ 






is brought home after the destruction of the figure of Death 
is plainly equivalent to the trees or branches which, in the 
preceding customs, were brought back as representatives of 
Summer or Life, after Death had been thrown away or de- 
stroyed. But the transference of the shirt worn by the effigy 
of Death to the tree clearly indicates that the tree is a kind of 
revivification, in a new form, of the destroyed effigy.^ This 
comes out also in the Transylvanian and Moravian customs ; 
the dressing of a girl in the clothes worn by the Death, and the 
leading her about the village to the same song which had 
been sung when the Death was being carried about, show 
that she is intended to be a kind of resuscitation of the 
being whose effigy has just been destroyed. These examples 
therefore suggest that the Death whose demolition is repre- 
sented in these ceremonies cannot be regarded as the purely 
destructive agent which we understand by Death. If the 
tree which is brought back as an embodiment of the reviving 
vegetation of spring is clothed in the shirt worn by the Death 
which has been just destroyed, the object certainly cannot be 
to check and counteract the revival of vegetation ; it can only 
be to foster and promote it. Therefore the being which has 
just been destroyed — the so-called Death — must be supposed 
to be endowed with a vivifying and quickening influence, 
which it can communicate to the vegetable and even the 
animal world. This ascription of a life-giving virtue to the 
figure of Death is put beyond a doubt by the custom, ob- 
served in some places, of taking pieces of the straw effigy of 
Death and placing them in the fields to make the crops 
grow, or in the manger to make the cattle thrive. Thus in 
Spachendorf, a village of Austrian Silesia, the figure of Death, 
made of straw, brushwood, and rags, is carried with wild 
songs to an open place outside the village and there burned, 
and while it is burning a general struggle takes place for the 
pieces, which are pulled out of the flames with bare hands. 
Each one who secures a fragment of the effigy ties it to a 
branch of the largest tree in his garden, or buries it in his 
field, in the belief that this causes the crops to grow better.* 

> This is also the view taken of the * Vernaleken, My then und Hriiuche 

custom by Mannbardt, Baumkultus^ p. <Us Volkts in Oesttrreich^ p. 293 sq. 




In the Troppau district of Austrian Silesia the straw figure 
which the boys make on the fourth Sunday in Lent is dressed 
by the girls in woman's clothes and hung with ribbons, neck- 
lace, and garlands. Attached to a long pole it is carried out 
of the village, followed by a troop of young people of 
both sexes, who alternately frolic, lament, and sing songs. 
Arrived at its destination — a field outside the village — the 
figrure is stripped of its clothes and ornaments ; then the 
crowd rushes at it and tears it to bits, scuffling for the frag- 
ments. Every one tries to get a wisp of the straw of which 
the effigy was made, because such a wisp, placed in the 
manger, is believed to make the cattle thrive.^ Or the straw 
is put in the hens* nest, it being supposed that this prevents 
the hens from carrying away their eggs, and makes them 
brood much better.* The same attribution of a fertilising 
power to the figure of Death appears in the belief that if the 
bearers of the figure, after throwing it away, meet cattle and 
strike them with their sticks, this will render the cattle pro- 
lific' Perhaps the sticks had been previously used to beat 
the Death,* and so had acquired the fertilising power ascribed 
to the effigy. In Leipsic at Mid-Lent men and women of 
the lowest class used to carry through all the streets a straw 
effigy of Death, which they exhibited to young wives, and 
finally threw into the river, alleging that this made young 
wives fruitful, cleansed the city, and averted the plague and 
other sickness from the inhabitants for that ycar.^ 

It seems hardly possible to separate from the May-trees 
the trees or branches which are brought into the village after 
the destruction of the Death. The bearers who bring them 
in profess to be bringing in the Summer ; • therefore the 
trees obviously represent the Summer ; and the doll which is 
sometimes attached to the Summer-tree is a duplicate repre- 
sentative of the Summer, just as the May is sometimes 
represented at the same time by a May-tree and a May 
Lady." Further, the Summer-trees are adorned like May- 

^ Reinsberg-Duringsfeld, Das fest* 
Udujakr^ p. 82. 

* Philo vom Waldc, S<klesien in Sage 
und Brauch^ p. 122. 

' Grimm, Deutsche Mythohgie^^ ii. 
640 sq. 

^ See above, p. 86. 

* K. Schwenk, Dk Afytkologie der 
Slenuen^ p. ^\^ sq, 

• Above, p. 91 sq, 

' See vol. i. p. 207 sqq. 



trees with ribbons and so on ; like May-trees, when large, 
they are planted in the ground and climbed up ; and like 
May-trees, when small, they are carried from door to door 
by boys or girls singing songs and collecting money .^ And 
as if to demonstrate the identity of the two sets of customs 
the bearers of the Summer-tree sometimes announce that 
they are bringing in the Summer and the May.* The 
customs, therefore, of bringing in the May and bringing in 
the Summer are essentially the same ; and the Summer-tree 
is merely another form of the May-tree, the only distinction 
(besides that of name) being in the time at which they are 
respectively brought in ; for while the May-tree is usually 
fetched in on the first of May or at Whitsuntide, the Summer- 
tree is fetched in on the fourth Sunday in Lent There-^ 
fore, if the explanation here adopted of the May-tree (namely,, 
that it is an embodiment of the tree-spirit or spirit of vege- 
tation) is correct, the Summer-tree must likewise be an em- 
bodiment of the tree-spirit or spirit of vegetation. But we 
have seen that the Summer-tree is in some cases a revivifi- 
cation of the effigy of Death. It follows, therefore, that in 
these cases the effigy called Death must be an embodiment 
of the tree-spirit or spirit of vegetation. This inference is 
confirmed, first, by the vivifying and fertilising influence 
which the fragments of the effigy of Death are believed to 
exercise both on vegetable and on animal life ; ' for this in- 
fluence, as we saw in the first chapter, is supposed to be a 
special attribute of the tree-spirit It is confirmed, secondly,, 
by observing that the effigy of Death is sometimes decked 
with leaves or made of twigs, branches, hemp, or a threshed- 
out sheaf of corn ; ^ and that sometimes it is hung on a 
little tree and so carried about by girls collecting money,*^ 
just as is done with the May-tree and the May Lady, and 
with the Summer-tree and the doll attached to it In 
short we are driven to regard the expulsion of Death and 

^. Above, p. 91, and Grimm, ^ Above, pp. 82, 83, 86, 93; mod 

Deutsche Mythologies^ ii. 644 ; Reins- Grimm, D,Af^ ii. 643. 

berg-Duringsfeld, Fest - Kalender aus * Reinsberg-Duringsfeld, />J/-A7i4»f- 

Bohmen^ p. 87 sq, der aus Bbhmen^ p. 88. Sometimes 

% Above D 02 ^^^ ^^^ ^^ ^^^** (without a tree) U 

' '^* ^ ' carried round by bojrs who collect 

' See above, p. 95 sq, gratuities (Grimm, D,M^ ii. 644). 





the bringing in of Summer as, in some cases at least, merely 
another form of that death and revival of the spirit of 
vegetation in spring which we saw enacted in the killing and 
resurrection of the Wild Man.^ The burial and resurrection 
of the Carnival is probably another way of expressing the 
same idea. The interment of the representative of the 
Carnival under a dung-heap is natural, if he is supposed to 
possess a quickening and fertilising influence like that 
ascribed to the effigy of Death. By the Esthonians, indeed, 
the straw figure which is carried out of the village in the 
usual way on Shrove Tuesday is not called the Carnival, but 
the Wood-spirit {Metstk\ and the identity of it with the 
wood-spirit is further shown by fixing it to the top of a tree 
in the wood, where it remains for a year, and is besought 
almost daily with prayers and offerings to protect the herds ; 
for like a true wood-spirit the Metsik is a patron of cattle. 
Sometimes the Metsik is made of sheaves of com.* 

Thus we may fairly conjecture that the names Carnival, 
Death, and Summer are comparatively late and inadequate 
expressions for the beings personified or embodied in the 
customs with which we have been dealing. The very ab- 
stractness of the names bespeaks a modem origin ; the per- 
sonification of times and seasons like the Carnival and Summer, 
or of an abstract notion like death, is hardly primitive. But 
the ceremonies themselves bear the stamp of a dateless 
antiquity ; therefore we can hardly help supposing that in 
their origin the ideas which they embodied were of a more 
simple and concrete order. The notion of a tree, perhaps 
of a particular kind of tree (for some savages have no word 
for tree in general), or even of an individual tree, is sufili- 
ciently concrete to supply a basis from which by a gradual 
process of generalisation the wider idea of a spirit of vege- 
tation might be reached. But this general idea of vegetation 
would readily be confounded with the season in which it 
manifests itself ; hence the substitution of Spring, Summer, or 
May for the tree-spirit or spirit of v^etation would be easy 

i \ 

^ Above, p; 62. 

' Wiedemann, Aus dem inneren und 
ausstren Leben der EhsUu^ p. 353 ; 
Hokmayej, **0siliana," in Verktuid^ 

lungen der gekhrten Estniscken C€seil- 
schafi zu Dorftat^ vii. Heft 2, p. 10 
sq, ; W. Mannhardt, Baumhdtus^ p. 
407 $q. 


and natural. Again the concrete notion of the dying tree or 
dying vegetation would by a similar process of generalisation 
glide into a notion of death in general ; so that the practice 
of carrying out the dying or dead vegetation in spring, as a 
preliminary to its revival, would in time widen out into an 
attempt to banish Death in general from the village or dis- 
trict The view that in these spring ceremonies Death meant 
origfinally the dying or dead vegetation of winter has the 
high support of W. Mannhardt ; and he confirms it by the 
analogy of the name Death as applied to the spirit of the 
ripe com. Commonly the spirit of the ripe corn is conceived, 
not as dead, but as old, and hence it goes by the name of the 
Old Man or the Old Woman. But in some places the last 
sheaf cut at harvest, which is generally believed to be the 
seat of the corn spirit, is called " the Dead One *' ; children 
are warned against entering the corn-fields because Death 
sits in the corn ; and, in a game played by Saxon children 
in Transylvania at the maize harvest, Death is represented 
by a child completely covered with maize leaves.* 

Sometimes in the popular customs of the peasantry the 
contrast between the dormant powers of vegetation in winter 
and their awakening vitality in spring takes the form of a 
dramatic contest between actors who play the parts respec- 
tively of Winter and Summer. Thus in the region of the 
middle Rhine, a representative of Summer clad in ivy combats 
a representative of Winter clad in straw or moss and finally 
gains a victory over him. The vanquished foe is thrown to 
the ground and stripped of his casing of straw, which is torn 
to pieces and scattered about, while the youthful comrades of 
the two champions sing a song to commemorate the defeat of 
Winter by Summer. Afterwards they carry about a summer 
garland or branch and collect gifts of eggs and bacon from 
house to house. Sometimes the champion who acts the part 
of Summer is dressed in leaves and flowers and wears a 
chaplet of flowers on his head. In the Palatinate this mimic 
conflict takes place on the fourth Sunday in Lent.* All over 
Bavaria the same drama used to be acted on the same day, 


^ \V. Mannhardt, BaumkuUus^ pp. 637-639 ; Bavaria^ Landes* U9td VolkS' 
417-421. kiind^ ties KonigreUks Baycnt^ iv. 2, 

* Grimm, Deutsche Mythologies^ ii. p. 357 jy. 




and it was still kept up in some places about forty years 
ago. While Summer appeared clad all in green, decked with 
fluttering ribbons, and carrying a branch in blossom or a 
little tree hung with apples and pears, Winter was muffled up 
in cap and mantle of fur and bore in his hand a snow-shovel 
or a flail. Accompanied by their respective retinues dressed 
in corresponding attire, they went through all the streets of 
the village, halting before the houses and singing staves of 
old songs, for which they received presents of bread, eggs, 
and fruit Finally, after a short struggle. Winter was beaten 
by Summer and ducked in the village well or driven out 
of the village with shouts and laughter into the forest^ In 
some parts of Bavaria the boys who play the parts of 
Winter and Summer act their little drama in every house 
that they vijit, and engage in a war of words before they come 
to blows, each of them vaunting the pleasures and benefits of 
the season he represents and disparaging those of the other. 
The dialogue is in verse. A few couplets may serve as 
specimens : — 


'< Green, green are meadows wherever I pass 
And the mowers are busy among the grass." 



White, white are the meadows wherever I go. 
And the sledges glide hissing across the snow." 


'< 111 climb up the tree where the red cherries glow. 
And Winter can stand by himself down below." 


" With you I will climb the cherry-tree tall. 
Its branches will kindle the fire in the hall." 


'^ O Winter, you are most uncivil 
To send old women to the devil." 


*' By that I make 'em warm and mellow, 
So let them bawl and let 'em bellow." 

^ Bavaria, etc., i. 369 sq. 



" I am the Summer in white array, 
I'm chasing the Winter far, far away." 


" I am the Winter in mantle of furs, 
Tm chasing the Summer o'er bushes'and burs." 



^' Just say a word more, and 111 have you bann'd 
At once and for ever from Summer land." 


'* O Summer, for all your bluster and brag. 
You'd not dare to carry a hen in a bag." 


** O Winter, your chatter no more can I stay, 
I'll kick and I'll cuflfyou without delay." 

Here ensues a scuffle between the two little boys, in which 
Summer gets the best of it, and turns Winter out of the 
house. But soon the beaten champion of Winter peeps in 
at the door and says with a humbled and crestfallen air : — 

'< O Summer, dear Summer, I'm under your ban, 
For you are the master and I am the man." 

To which Summer replies : — 

** 'Tis a capital notion, an excellent plan. 
If I am the master and you are the man. 
So come, my dear Winter, and give me your hand, 
We'll travel together to Summer Land." ^ 

At Goepfritz in Lower Austria, two men personating Summer 
and Winter used to go from house to house on Shrove 
Tuesday, and were everywhere welcomed by the children 
with great delight. The representative of Summer was clad 
in white and bore a sickle ; his comrade, who played the part 
of Winter, had a fur-cap on his head, his arms and legs were 
swathed in straw, and he carried a flail. In every house 

> Bavaria^ l^andes' uud Volkskuude dialogue in verse between represent- 

lies Konigreichs Bayem^ ii. 259 sq, \ atives of Winter and Summer b spoken 

Panzer, fieitrag zur deutscktn Mytho- at Hartlieb in Silesia, near Breslau. 

/ty?V, i. pp. 253-256; Leoprechiing, See Zfitschrift des Vcreins fiir Volks* 

Atis dem Lechrain^ j). 167 sq. A kumU^ iii. (1893), PP* 226-228. 


they sang verses alternately.^ At Dromling in Brunswick, 
down to the present time, the contest between Summer 
and Winter is acted every year by a troop of boys and a 
troop of girls. The boys rush singing, shouting, and ring- 
ing bells from house to house to drive Winter away ; after 
them come the girls singling softly and led by a May Bride, 
all in bright dresses and decked with flowers and garlands 
to represent the genial advent of spring. Formerly the 
part of Winter was played by a straw-man which the boys 
carried with them ; now it is acted by a real man in disguise.' 
In Wachtl and Brodek, a German village and a little German 
town of Moravia, encompassed by Slavonic people on every 
side, the great change that comes over the earth in spring is 
still annually mimicked. The long village of Wachtl, with its 
trim houses and farmyards, nestles in a valley surrounded by 
pretty pine-woods. Here, on a day in spring, about the time 
of the vernal equinox, an elderly man with a long flaxen 
beard may be seen going from door to door. He is muffled 
in furs, with warm gloves on his hands and a bearskin cap 
on his head, and he carries a threshing flail. This is the 
personification of Winter. With him goes a younger beard- 
less man dressed in white, wearing a straw hat trimmed with 
gay ribbons on his head, and carrying a decorated May-tree 
in his hands. This is Summer. At every house they receive 
a friendly greeting and recite a long dialogue in verse, Winter 
punctuating his discourse with his flail, which he brings 
down with rude vigour on the backs of all within reach.' 
Amongst the Slavonic population near Ungarisch Brod, in 
Moravia, the ceremony took a somewhat different form. 
Girls dressed in green marched in procession round a May- 
tree. Then two others, one in white and one in green, stepped 
up to the tree and engaged in a dialogue. Finally, the girl 
in white was driven away, but returned afterwards clothed in 
green, and the festival ended with a dance.^ On May Day 
it used to be customary in almost all the lai^e parishes of 
the Isle of Man to choose from among the daughters of the 

1 Vernaleken, Mythen ttnd Brauckc ^ W. Miiller, Beitriigit zur Volks- 

dts Volkts in Otsttrrnck^ p. 297 sq, kundc der Denischen in Afahren^ pp. 

' R. Andree, Braunsckweiger Volks- 430*436. 

kundc (Brunswick, 1896), p. 250. -* W. MUlIer, op. at. p. 259. 



wealthiest farmers a young maiden to be Queen of May. 
She was dressed in the gayest attire and attended by about 
twenty others, who were called maids of honour. She had 
also a young man for her captain with a number of inferior 
officers under him. In opposition to her was the Queen of 
Winter, a man attired as a woman, with woollen hoods, fur 
tippets, and loaded with the warmest and heaviest clothes, 
one upon another. Her attendants were habited in like 
manner, and she too had a captain and troop for her 
defence. Thus representing respectively the beauty of spring 
and the deformity of winter they set forth from their different 
quarters, the one preceded by the dulcet music of flutes and 
violins, the other by the harsh clatter of cleavers and tongs. 
Thus they marched till they met on a common, where 
the trains of the two mimic sovereigns engaged in a mock 
battle. If the Queen of Winter's forces got the better of their 
adversaries and took her rival prisoner, the captive Queen of 
Summer was ransomed for as much as would pay the expenses 
of the festival. After this ceremony, Winter and her company 
retired and diverted themselves in a bam, while the partisans 
of Summer danced on the green, concluding the evening with 
a feast, at which the Queen and her maids sat at one table 
and the captain and his troop at another. In later times the 
person of the Queen of May was exempt from capture, but 
one of her slippers was substituted and, if captured, had to 
be ransomed to defray the expenses of the pageant. The 
procession of the Summer, which was subsequently composed 
of little girls and called the Maceboard, outlived that of its 
rival the Winter for some years ; but both have now long 
been things of the past.^ 

Among the central Esquimaux of North America the 
contest between representatives of summer and winter, 
which in Europe has long degenerated into a mere dramatic 
performance, is still kept up as a magical ceremony of which 
the avowed intention is to influence the weather. In autumn, 
when storms announce the approach of the dismal Arctic 
winter, the Esquimaux divide themselves into two parties 

1 J. Train, Historical and Statistical name Maceboard niny be a corruption 
Account of the Isle of Alan^ \\, 118- of May-s|x>rts. 
120. It has been suggested that the 




called respectively the ptarmigans and the ducks, the ptarmi- 
gans comprising all persons born in winter, and the ducks 
all persons born in summer. A long rope of sealskin is then 
stretched out, and each party laying hold of one end of it 
seeks by tugging with might and main to drag the other 
party over to its side. If the ptarmigans get the worst of 
it, then summer has won the game and fine weather may be 
expected to prevail through the winter.^ In this ceremony it 
is clearly assumed that persons bom in summer have a 
natural affinity with warm weather, and therefore possess a 
power of mitigating the rigour of winter, whereas persons 
bom in winter are, so to say, of a cold and frosty disposition 
and can thereby exert a refrigerating influence on the tem- 
perature of the air. In spite of this natural antipathy 
between the representatives of summer and winter, we may 
be allowed to conjecture that in the grand tug of war the 
ptarmigans do not pull at the rope with the same hearty 
goodwill as the ducks, and that thus the genial influence of 
summer commonly prevails over the harsh austerity of winter. 
The Indians of Canada seem also to have imagined that 
persons are endowed with distinct natural capacities accord- 
ing as they are bom in summer or winter, and they tumed 
the distinction to account in much the same fashion as the 
Esquimaux. When they wearied of the long frosts and the 
deep snow which kept them prisoners in their huts and pre- 
vented them from hunting, all of them who were bom in 
summer rushed out of their houses armed with burning 
brands and torches which they hurled against the One who 
makes Winter ; and this was supposed to produce the desired 
effect of mitigating the cold. But those Indians who were 
bom in winter abstained from taking part in the ceremony, 
for they believed that if they meddled with it the cold would 
increase instead of diminishing.^ We may surmise that in 
the corresponding European ceremonies, which have just been 
described, it was formerly deemed necessary that the actors, 
who played the parts of Winter and Summer, should have 
been born in the seasons which they personated. 


» Fr. Boas, **Thc Central Eskimo," 
Sixth Annual Report of the Bureau of 
Ethno/oxy {WtshmgioTi, 1888), p. 605. 

* Relations des Jisuites^ 1636, p. 38 
(Canadian reprint). 


In Russia funeral ceremonies like those of " Burying the 
Carnival " and " Carrying out Death " are celebrated under 
the names, not of death or the Carnival, but of certain 
mythic figures, Kostrubonko, Kostroma, Kupalo, Lada, and 
Yarilo. These Russian ceremonies are observed both in 
spring and at midsummer. Thus " in Little Russia it used 
to be the custom at Eastertide to celebrate the funeral of a 
being called Kostrubonko, the deity of the spring. A circle 
was formed of singers who moved slowly around a g^rl who 
lay on the ground as if dead, and as they went they sang — 

' Dead, dead is our Kostrubonko ! 
Dead, dead is our dear one ! ' 

until the girl suddenly sprang up, on which the chorus joy- 
fully exclaimed — 

* Come to life, come to life has our Kostrubonko ! 
Come to life, come to life has our dear one ! '" ^ 

On the Eve of St John (Midsummer Eve) a figure of Kupalo 
is made of straw and '' is dressed in woman's clothes, with a 
necklace and a floral crown. Then a tree is felled, and, after 
being decked with ribbons, is set up on some chosen spot 
Near this tree, to which they give the name of Marena 
[Winter or Death], the straw figure is placed, together with a 
table, on which stand spirits and viands. Afterwards a bon- 
fire is lit, and the young men and maidens jump over it in 
couples, carrying the figure with them. On the next day 
they strip the tree and the figure of their ornaments, and 
throw them both into a stream." ^ On St. Peter's Day, the 
twenty-ninth of June, or on the following Sunday, "the Funeral 
of Kostroma " or of Lada or of Yarilo is celebrated in Russia. 
In the Governments of Penza and Simbirsk the funeral used 
to be represented as follows. A bonfire was kindled on the 
twenty-eighth of June, and on the next day the maidens chose 
one of their number to play the part of Kostroma. Her 
companions saluted her with deep obeisances, placed her on 
a board, and carried her to the bank of a stream. There they 
bathed her in the water, while the oldest girl made a basket 

* Ralston, Soni^s of the Russian People^ p. 221. 
- Ralston, op. a'f. p. 241. 




of lime-tree bark and beat it like a drum. Then they re- 
turned to the village and ended the day with processions, 
games, and dances.^ In the Murom district, Kostroma was 
represented by a straw figure dressed in woman's clothes 
and flowers. This was laid in a trough and carried with 
songs to the bank of a lake or river. Here the crowd divided 
into two sides of which the one attacked and the. other 
defended the figure. At last the assailants gained the day, 
stripped the figure of its dress and ornaments, tore it in 
pieces, trod the straw of which it was made under foot, and 
flung it into the stream ; while the defenders of the figure 
hid their faces in their hands and pretended to bewail the 
death of Kostroma.- In the district of Kostroma the burial of 
Yarilo was celebrated on the twenty-ninth or thirtieth of June. 
The people chose an old man and gave him a small coffin 
containing a Priapus-like figure representing Yarilo. This he 
carried out of the town, followed by women chanting dii^es 
and expressing by their gestures grief and despair. In the 
open fields a grave was dug, and into it the figure was lowered 
amid weeping and wailing, after which games and dances 
were beg^n, '* calling to mind the funeral games celebrated 
in old times by the pagan Slavonians." ' In Little Russia 
the figure of Yarilo was laid in a coffin and carried through 
the streets after sunset surrounded by drunken women, who 
kept repeating mournfully, " He is dead ! he is dead 1 ^ The 
men lifted and shook the figure as if they were trying to 
recall the dead man to life. Then they said to the women, 
" Women, weep not. I know what is sweeter than honey."^ 
But the women continued to lament and chant, as they do at 
funerals. " Of what was he guilty ? He was so good. He 
will arise no more. O how shall we part from thee ? What 
IS life without thee ? Arise, if only for a brief hour. But 
he rises not, he rises not" At last the Yarilo was buried in 
a grave.* 

These Russian customs are plainly of the same nature as 
those which in Austria and Germany are known as '* Carrying 

^ Ralston, op, cit. p. 243 sq,\ W. 
Mannhardt, BaumkuUuSy p. 414. 

' W. Mannhardt, Baumktdtus^ p. 
414 j^.; Ralston, op, cit. p. 244. 

* Ralston, op. Hi, p. 245 ; W. 
Mannhardt, Baumhdtus^ p. 416. 

^ W. Mannhardt, l,<, ; Ralston, l,<. 



out Death." Therefore if the interpretation here adopted of 
the latter is right, the Russian Kostroma, Yarilo, and the rest 
must also have been originally embodiments of the spirit of 
vegetation, and their death must have been regarded as a 
necessary preliminary to their revival. The revival as a sequel 
to the death is enacted in the first of the ceremonies described, 
the death and resurrection of Kostrubonko. The reason why 
in some of these Russian ceremonies the death of the spirit 
of vegetation is celebrated at midsummer may be that the 
decline of summer is dated from Midsummer Day, after 
which the days begin to shorten, and the sun sets out on his 
downward journey — 

*' To the darksome hollows 
Where the frosts of winter lie.*' 

Such a turning-point of the year, when vegetation might be 
thought to share the incipient though still almost impercep- 
tible decay of summer, might very well be chosen by primi- 
tive man as a fit moment for resorting to those magic cere- 
monies by which he hopes to stay the decline, or at least to 
ensure the revival, of plant life. 

But while the death of vegetation appears to have 
been represented in all, and its revival in some, of these 
spring and midsummer ceremonies, there are features in 
some of them which can hardly be explained on this 
hypothesis alone. The solemn funeral, the lamentations, 
and the mourning attire, which often characterise these 
ceremonies, are indeed appropriate at the death of the 
beneficent spirit of vegetation. But what shall we say of 
the glee with which the effigy is often carried out, of the 
sticks and stones with which it is assailed, and the taunts 
and curses which are hurled at it ? What shall we say of 
the dread of the effigy evinced by the haste with which the 
bearers scamper home as soon as they have thrown it away, 
and by the belief that some one must soon die in any house 
into which it has looked? This dread might perhaps be 
explained by a belief that there is a certain infectiousness in 
the dead spirit of vegetation which renders its approach 
dangerous. But this explanation, besides being rather 
strained, does not cover the rejoicings which often attend 




the carrying out of Death. We must therefore recognise 
two distinct and seemingly opposite features in these cere- 
monies : on the one hand, sorrow for the death, and affection 
and respect for the dead ; on the other hand, fear and hatred 
of the dead, and rejoicings at his death. How the former of 
these features is to be explained I have attempted to show ; 
how the latter came to be so closely associated with the 
former is a question which I shall try to answer in the sequel. 

Before we quit these European customs to go farther 
afield, it will be well to notice that occasionally the expulsion 
of Death or of a mythic being is conducted without any 
visible representative of the personage expelled. Thus at 
Konigshain, near Gorlitz in Silesia, all the villagers, young 
and old, used to go out with straw torches to the top of a 
neighbouring hill, called Todtenstein (Death-stone), where 
they lit their torches, and so returned home singing, " We 
have driven out Death, we are bringing back Summer."^ 
In Albania young people light torches of resinous wood .on 
Easter Eve, and march in procession through the village 
brandishing them. At last they throw the torches into the 
river, saying, ** Ha, Kore, we fling you into the river, like 
these torches, that you may return no more." Some say 
that the intention of the ceremony is to drive out winter ; 
but Kore is conceived as a malignant being who devours 

In the Kanagra dbtrict of India there is a custom 
observed by young girls in spring which closely resembles 
some of the European Spring ceremonies just described. It 
is called the Roll Ka melA, or fair of Rail, the Rait being a 
small painted earthen image of Siva or P^rvatf. The custom 
is in vogue all over the Kanagra district, and its celebration, 
which is entirely confined to young girls, lasts through most 
of Chet (March- April) up to the Sankr^nt of Baisdkh (April). 
On a morning in March all the young girls of the village 
take small baskets of d^b grass and flowers to an appointed 
place, where they throw them in a heap. Round this 
heap they stand in a circle and sing. This goes on every 
day for ten days, till the heap of grass and flowers has 


' Grimm, Deutsche Mythdogie^^ ii. 

* J. G. von HahD, Albofusiscfu 
S/itt/ten, i. 160. 



reached a fair height. Then they cut in the jungle two 
branches, each with three prongs at one end, and place them, 
prongs downwards, over the heap of flowers, so as to make 
two tripods or pyramids. On the single uppermost points 
of these branches they get an image-maker to construct two 
clay images, one to represent Siva, and the other P^rvatf. 
The girls then divide themselves into two parties, one for 
Siva and one for Pdrvati, and marry the images in the usual 
way, leaving out no part of the ceremony. After the mar- 
riage they have a feast, the cost of which is defrayed by 
contributions solicited from their parents. Then at the next 
Sankr^nt (Baisdkh) they all go together to the riverside, 
throw the images into a deep pool, and weep over the place, 
as though they were performing funeral obsequies. The 
hoys of the neighbourhood often tease them by diving after 
the images, bringing them up, and waving them about while 
the girls are crying over them. The object of the fair is 
said to be to secure a good husband.^ 

That in this Indian ceremony the deities Siva and 
Pdrvati are conceived as spirits of vegetation seems to be 
proved by the placing of their images on branches over a 
heap of grass and flowers. Here, as often in European folk- 
custom, the divinities of vegetation are represented in 
duplicate, by plants and by puppets. The marriage of 
these Indian deities in spring corresponds to the European 
ceremonies in which the marriage of the vernal spirits of 
vegetation is represented by the King and Queen of May, 
the May Bride, Bridegroom of the May, and so forth.* The 
throwing of the images into the water, and the mourning for 
them, are the equivalents of the European customs of throw- 
ing the dead spirit of vegetation under the name of Death, 
Yarilo, Kostroma, and the rest, into the water and lamenting 
over it. Again, in India, as often in Europe, the rite is per- 
formed exclusively by females. The notion that the ceremony 
helps to procure husbands for the girls can be explained 
by the quickening and fertilising influence which the spirit of 
vegetation is believed to exert upon the life of man as well 
as of plants.' 

^ K. C. Temple, in Indian Antiquary, xi. (1882), p. 297 s^, 
^ See vol. i. p. 220 sqq, ' See vol. i. p. 192 sqq. 




The general explanation which we have been led to 
adopt of these and many similar ceremonies is that they are, 
or were in their origin, magical rites intended to ensure the 
revival of nature in spring. The means by which they were 
supposed to effect this end were imitation and sympathy. 
Led astray by his ignorance of the true causes of things, 
primitive man believed that in order to produce the great 
phenomena of nature on which his life depended he had 
only to imitate them, and that immediately by a secret 
sympathy or mystic influence the little drama which he 
acted in forest glade or mountain dell, on desert plain or 
wind-swept shore, would be taken up and repeated by 
mightier actors on a vaster stage. He fancied that by 
masquerading in leaves and flowers, he helped the bare 
earth to clothe herself with verdure, and that by playing the 
death and burial of winter he drove that gloomy season 
a\vay, and made smooth the path for the footsteps of return- 
ing spring. If we find it hard to throw ourselves even 
in fancy into a mental condition in which such things 
seem possible, we can more easily picture to ourselves the 
anxiety which the savage, when he first began to lift his 
thoughts above the satisfaction of his merely animal wants, 
and to meditate on the causes of things, may have felt as to 
the continued operation of what we now call the laws of 
nature. To us, familiarised with the conception of the 
uniformity and regularity with which the great cosmic 
phenomena succeed each other, there seems little ground for 
apprehension that the causes which produce these effects 
will cease to operate, at least within the near future. But 
this confidence in the stability of nature is bred only by the 
experience which comes of wide observation and long 
tradition ; and the savage, with his narrow sphere of obser- 
vation and his short-lived tradition, lacks the very elements 
of that experience which alone could set his mind at rest in 
face of the ever-changing and often menacing aspects of 
nature. No wonder, therefore, that he is thrown into a 
panic by an eclipse, and thinks that the sun or the moon 
would surely perish, if he did not raise a clamour and shoot 
his puny shafts into the air to defend the luminaries 
from the monster who threatens to devour them. No 







wonder he is terrified when in the darkness of night a 
streak of sky is suddenly illumined by the flash of a 
meteor, or the whole expanse of the celestial arch glows 
with the fitful light of the Northern Streamers.^ Even 
phenomena which recur at fixed and uniform intervals may 
be viewed by him with apprehension, before he has come to 
recogfnise the orderliness of their recurrence. The speed or 
slowness of his recognition of such periodic or cyclic changes 
in nature will depend largely on the length of the particular 
cycle. The cycle, for example, of day and night fa every- 
where, except in the polar regions, so short and hence so 
frequent that men probably soon ceased to discompose them- 
selves seriously as to the chance of its failing to recur, 
though the ancient Egyptians, as we have seen, daily 
wrought enchantments to bring back to the east in the 
morning the fiery orb which had sunk at evening in the 
crimson west. But it was far otherwise with the annual 
cycle of the seasons. To any man a year is a considerable 
period, seeing that the number of our years fa but few at the 
best. To the primitive savage, with his short memory and 
imperfect means of marking the flight of time, a year may 
well have been so long that he failed to recognise it as a 
cycle at all, and watched the changing aspects of earth and 
heaven with a perpetual wonder, alternately delighted and 
alarmed, elated and cast down according as the vicissitudes 
of light and heat^ of plant and animal life, ministered to his 
comfort or threatened his existence. In autumn when the 
yellow leaves were whirled about the forest by the nipping 
blast, and he looked up at the bare boughs, could he feel 
sure that they would ever be green again ? As day by day 
the sun sank lower and lower in the sky, could he be certain 
that the luminary would ever retrace his heavenly road ? 
Even the waning moon, whose pale sickle rose thinner and 
thinner every night over the rim of the eastern horizon, may 
have excited in his mind a fear lest, when it had wholly 
vanished, there should be moons no more. These and a 

^ When the Kuraai of Victoria saw " Send it away ! send it away ! do 

the Aurora Australis, which corre- not let it bum us up ! *' See A. W. 

sponds to the Northern Streamers of Howitt, *'On some Australian be- 

Kurope, they swung the severed hand liefs," Jottrtial of the Anthropological 

of a dead man towards it, shouting, lustittttt^ xiii. (1884), p. 189. 




thousand such misgivings may have thronged the fancy and 
troubled the peace of the man who first began to reflect on 
the mysteries of the world he lived in, and to take thought 
for a more distant future than the morrow. It was natural, 
therefore, that with such thoughts and fears he should have 
done all that in him lay to bring back the faded blossom to 
the bough, to swing the low sun of winter up to his old 
place in the summer sky, and to restore its orbed fulness to 
the silver lamp of the waning moon. We may smile at his 
vain endeavours if we please, but it was only by making a 
long series of experiments, of which some were almost 
inevitably doomed . to failure, that man learned from ex- 
perience the futility of some of his attempted methods and 
the fruitfulness of others. After all, magical ceremonies are 
nothing but experiments which have failed and which con- 
tinue to be repeated merely because, for reasons which have 
already been indicated,^ the operator is unaware of their 
failure. With the advance of knowledge these ceremonies 
either cease to be performed altogether or are kept up from 
force of habit long after the intention with which they were 
instituted has been forgotten. Thus fallen from their high 
estate, no longer regarded as solemn rites on the punctual 
performance of which the welfare and even the life of the 
community depended, they sink gradually to the level of 
simple pageants, mummeries, and pastimes, till in the final 
stage of d^eneration they are wholly abandoned by older 
people, and, froni having once been the most serious occupa- 
tion of the sage, become at last the idle sport of children. 
It is in this final stage of decay that most of the old magical 
rites of our European forefathers linger on at the present 
day, and even from this their last retreat they are fast being 
swept away by the rising tide of those multitudinous forces, 
moral, intellectual, and social, which are bearing mankind 
onward to a new and unknown goal We may feel some 
natural regret at the disappearance of quaint customs and 
picturesque ceremonies, which have preserved to an age 
often deemed dull and prosaic something of the flavour and 
freshness of the olden time, some breath of the springtime of 
the world ; yet our regret will be lessened when we remember 

* Sec vol. i. p. 78 sqq. 



i \ 

Ill TO A SS/ST NA TURE 1 1 3 


\ that these pretty pageants, these now innocent diversions 
had their origin in ignorance and superstition ; that if they 
are a record of human endeavour, they are also a monument 
of fruitless ingenuity, of wasted labour, and of blighted 
hopes ; and that for all their gay trappings — their flowers, 
their ribbons, and their music — they partake far more of 
tragedy than of farce. 

The interpretation which, following in the footsteps of 
W. Mannhardt, I have attempted to gfive of these ceremonies 
has been not a little confirmed by the discovery, made since 
this book was first written, that the natives of Central Aus- 
tralia regularly practise magical ceremonies for the purpose 
of awakening the dormant energies of nature at the approach 
of what may be called the Australian spring. In the hot 
and arid region which is the home of these rude savages the 
seasons are limited, so far as concerns the flowering of 
plants and the breeding of animals, to two, namely, a dry 
one of uncertain and often great length, and a rainy one of 
short duration and often irregular occurrence. The latter is 
followed by an increase in animal life and an exuberance of 
vegetable growth which, almost suddenly, transforms what 
may have been a sterile waste into a land rich in a variety 
of animal species, none of which have been seen for perhaps 
many months before, and gay with the blossoms of endless 
flowering plants. It is diflicult, we are told, to realise the 
contrast between the steppes of Australia in the dry and in 
the rainy season. In the dry season the landscape presents 
a scene of desolation. The sun shines down hotly on stony 
plains or . yellow sandy ground, on which grow wiry shrubs 
and small tussocks of grass, not set closely together, as in 
moister lands, but straggling separately, so that in any 
patch the number of plants can be counted. The sharp, 
thin shadows of the wiry scrub fall on the yellow ground, 
which betrays no sign of animal life save for the little ant- 
hills, thousands of whose inmates are seen rushing about in 
apparently hopeless confusion, or piling leaves and seeds in 
regfular order around the entrance to their burrows. A desert 
oak, as it is called, or an acacia tree may here and there aflbrd a 
scanty shade, but for weeks together there are no clouds to hide 
the brightness of the sun by day or of the stars by night. 





All this is changed when heavy rains have fallen and 
torrents rush down the lately dry beds of the rivers, sweep- 
ing along uprooted trees and great masses of tangled wrack 
on their impetuous current, and flooding far and wide the 
flat lands on either bank. Then what has been for months 
an arid wilderness is suddenly changed into a vast sheet of 
water. Soon, however, the rain ceases to fall and the flood 
subsides rapidly. For a few days the streams run, then dry 
up, and only the deeper holes here and there retain the 
water. The sun once more shines down hotly, and in the 
damp ground seeds which have lain dormant for months 
sprout, and, as if by magic, the desert becomes covered with 
luxuriant herbage. Birds, frogs, lizards, and insects of all 
sorts may be seen and heard where lately everything was 
parched and silent. Plants and animals alike make the 
most of the brief time in which they can grow and multiply ; 
the struggle for existence is all the keener because it is so 
short. If a young plant can strike its roots deep enough to 
reach the cool soil below the heated surface, it may live ; if 
not, it must perish. If a young animal grows fast enough to 
be able to burrow while the banks of the water-hole in which 
it lives are still damp, it, too, stands a chance of surviving.^ 

Now it is just when there is promise of the approach of 
a good season that the natives of Central Australia are wont 
especially to perform those magical ceremonies of which the 
avowed intention is to multiply the plants and animals which 
they use as food.* These ceremonies, therefore, present a 
close analogy to the spring customs of our European 
peasantry not only in the time of their celebration, but also 
in their aim ; for we can hardly doubt that in instituting 
rites designed to assist the revival of plant life in spring our 
primitive forefathers were moved, not by any sentimental 
wish to smell at early violets, or pluck the rathe primrose, or 
watch yellow daflbdils dancing in the breeze, but by the very 

* Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes 
of Central Australia^ pp. 4 sq,, 17a 
I have reproduced the graphic descrip- 
tion of the writers almost verbally. 

* Spencer and Gillen, op, at. ch. 
\\. •* Intichiuraa Ceremonies," pp. 167- 
211. Although these ceremonies agree 
with the Euroi>ean customs we have 

been discussing in their general inten- 
tion and the principle on which they 
proceed, which is that of imitation and 
sympathy, they differ too widely from 
them in details for a comparison to be 
instructive. Some of them have been 
briefly described already (vol. i. p. 23 



practical consideration, certainly not formulated in abstract 
terms, that the life of man is inextricably bound up with 
that of plants, and that if they were to perish he could not 
survive. And as the faith of the Australian savage in the 
efficacy of his magic rites is confirmed by observing that 
their performance is invariably followed, sooner or later, by 
that increase of vegetable and animal life which it is their 
object to produce, so, we may suppose, it was with European 
savages in the olden time. The sight of the fresh green in 
brake and thicket, of vernal flowers blowing on mossy banks, 
of swallows arriving from the south, and of the sun mounting 
daily higher in the sky, would be welcomed by them as so 
many visible signs that their enchantments were indeed 
taking effect, and would inspire them with a cheerful con- 
fidence that all was well with a world which they could thus 
mould to suit their wishes. Only in autumn days, as 
summer slowly faded, would their confidence again be 
dashed by doubts and misgivings at sight of symptoms of 
decay, which told how vain were all their efforts to stave off" 
for ever the approach of winter and of death. 

§ 4. Adonis 

But it is in Egypt and Western Asia that the death and 
resurrection of vegetation appear to have been most widely 
celebrated with ceremonies like those of modern Europe. 
Under the names of Osiris, Adonis, Tammuz, Attis, and 
Dionysus, the Egyptians, Syrians, Babylonians, Phrygians, 
and Greeks represented the decay and revival of vegetation 
with rites which, as the ancients themselves recognised, were 
substantially the same, and which find their parallels in the 
spring and midsummer customs of our European peasantry. 
The nature and worship of these deities have been discussed 
at length by many learned writers ; all that I propose to do 
is to sketch those salient features in their ritual and legends 
which seem to establish the view here taken of their nature. 
We begin with Adonis or Tammuz. 

The worship of Adonis was practised by the Semitic 
peoples of Syria, from whom it was borrowed by the Greeks 
as early at least as the fifth century before Christ. The 



name Adonis is the Phoenician Adon^ " lord." ^ He was 
said to have been a fair youth, beloved by Aphrodite (the 
Semitic Astarte), but slain by a boar in his youthful prime. 
His death was annually lamented with a bitter wailing, 
chiefly by women ; images of him, dressed to resemble 
corpses, were carried out as to burial and then thrown into 
the sea or into springs ; * and in some places his revival was 
celebrated on the following day.* But the ceremonies varied 
somewhat both in the manner and the season of their cele- 
bration in different places. At Alexandria images of Adonis \ 
and Aphrodite were displayed on two couches ; beside them 
were set ripe fruits of all kinds, cakes, plants growing in 
flower-pots, and green bowers twined with anise. The 
marriage of the lovers was celebrated one day, and on the 
next the image of Adonis was borne by women attired as 
mourners, with streaming hair and bared breasts, to the sea- 
shore and committed to the waves.* The date at which this 
Alexandrian ceremony was observed is not expressly stated ; 
but from the mention of the ripe fruits it has been inferred 
that it took place in late summer.* At Byblus the death of 
Adonis was annually mourned with weeping, wailing, and 
beating of the breast ; but next day he was believed to come 
to life again and ascend up to heaven in the presence of his 
worshippers.* This celebration appears to have taken place 
in spring ; for its date was determined by the discoloration 
of the River Adonis, and this has been observed by modem 
travellers to occur in spring. At that season the red earth 
washed down from the mountains by the rain tinges the 
water of the river and even the sea for a great way with a 
blood-red hue, and the crimson stain was believed to be the 
blood of Adonis, annually wounded to death by the boar on 
Mount Lebanon.^ Again, the red anemone was said to 

^ Baudissin, Studien zur semitischen canitur aique laudcUur . . . inttrfec- 

Relii^ionsgesekichte^ L 299 ; W. Mann- tionem et rentrrectiottem Adonidis 

hardt, Antike Wold- und FeldkulU^ p. planttu et gattdio ftroscqucm,^ 

274. ^ Theocritus, xv. 

* Plutarch, --/Zfii^iVwif J, i8;Zenobius, • W. Mannhardt, op. cit, p. 277. 

Centur. i. 49 ; Theocritus, xv. 1 32 sq, ; * Lucian, Dt dta Syria^ 6. The 

Eustathius on Homer, Od. xi. 590. words ^r r6v i^pa wifiwovffi imply that 

' Besides Lucian (cited below) see the ascension was supposed to take place 

Jerome, Comment, in Etechiel. viii. in the presence, if not before the eyes, 

14 : " I « qua {solemn i/a/e) plangitiir of the worshipping crowds. 

quasi mortuus^ et postea revrviscens^ ^ Lucian, op. dt. 8. The discol- 




have sprung from the blood of Adonis;^ and as the anemone 
blooms in Syria about Easter, this is a fresh proof that the 
festival of Adonis, or at least one of his festivals, was 
celebrated in spring. The name of the flower is probably 
derived from Naaman ("darling"), which seems to have 
been an epithet of Adonis. The Arabs still call the ane- 
mone " wounds of the Naaman." * 

The resemblance of these ceremonies to the Indian and 
European ceremonies previously described is obvious. In 
particular, apart from the somewhat doubtful date of its 
celebration, the Alexandrian ceremony is almost identical 
with the Indian. In both of them the marriage of two 
divine beings, whose affinity with vegetation seems indicated 
by the fresh plants with which they are surrounded, is 
celebrated in effigy, and the effigies are afterwards mourned 
over and thrown into the water.* From the similarity of 
these customs to each other and to the spring and mid- 
summer customs of modem Europe we should naturally 
expect that they all admit of a common explanation. 
Hence, if the explanation here adopted of the latter is 
correct, the ceremony of the death and resurrection of 
Adonis must also have been a representation of the decay 
and revival of plant life. The inference thus based on the 
similarity of the customs is confirmed by the following 
features in the legend and ritual of Adonis. His affinity 
with vegetation comes out at once in the common story of his 
birth. He was said to have been born from a myrrh-tree, the 
bark of which bursting, after a ten months' gestation, allowed 
the lovely infant to come forth. According to some, a boar 
rent the bark with his tusk and so opened a passage for the 
babe. A faint rationalistic colour was given to the legend 

oration of the river and the sea was 
obsen'ed by Maundrell on ^f th March 
5 If 55. Sec his •* Journey from Aleppo 
to Jerusalem/' in Bohn*s Early Trai^els 
tn PaUstine, edited by Thomas Wright, 
p. 411. Kenan observed the discolora- 
tion at the beginning of February ; 
Raudissin, StudUen^ L 298 (referring to 
Kenan, Mission de PkMicie^ p. 283). 
Milton's lines will occur to most readers. 
* Ovid, Metam. x. 735, compared 
with Bion L 66. The latter, however, 

makes the anemone spring from the 
tears/ as the rose from the blood of 

* W. Robertson Smith, '*Ctesiasand 
the Semiramis legend," in English 
Historical A!ei'iew, April 1887, fol- 
lowing Lagarde. 

3 In the Alexandrian ceremony, how- 
ever, it apjiears to have been the image 
of Adonis only which was thrown into 
the sea. 




by saying that his mother was a woman named Myrrh, who 
had been turned into a myrrh-tree soon after she had con- 
ceived the child.^ Again the story that Adonis spent half, 
or according to others a third, of the year in the lower world 
and the rest of it in the upper world,* is explained most 
simply and naturally by supposing that he represented 
vegetation, especially the corn, which lies buried in the earth 
half the year and reappears above ground the other half. 
Certainly of the annual phenomena of nature there is none 
which suggests so obviously the idea of a yearly death and 
resurrection as the disappearance and reappearance of v^e- 
tation in autumn and spring. Adonis has been taken for 
the sun ; but there is nothing in the sun's annual course 
within the temperate and tropical zones to suggest that he 
is dead for half or a third of the year and alive for the other 
half or two- thirds. He might, indeed, be conceived as 
weakened in winter, but dead he could not be thought to 
be ; his daily reappearance contradicts the supposition. 
Within the Arctic Circle, where the sun annually disappears 
for a continuous period which varies from twenty-four hours 
to six months according to the latitude, his annual death 
and resurrection would certainly be an obvious idea ; but 
no one has suggested that the Adonis worship came from 
the Arctic regions. On the other hand, the annual death 
and revival of vegetation is a conception which readily 
presents itself to men in every stage of savagery and 
civilisation ; and the vastness of the scale on which this 
yearly decay and regeneration takes place, together with 
man's intimate dependence on it for subsistence, combine 
to render it the most striking annual phenomenon in nature, 
at least within the temperate zones. It is no wonder that 
a phenomenon so important, so striking, and so universal 
should, by suggesting similar ideas, have given rise to similar 

^ Apollodonis, Biblioth, iii. 14. 4 ; 
Schol. on Theocritus, i. 109; Antoninus 
Liberalis, Transform, "^^'^ Tzctzes, Schol, 
on Lycophron^ 829 ; Ovid, Metatn. x. 
489 sqq, ; Servius on Virgil, Aen, v. 72, 
and on Hucol, x. 18 ; Hyginus, Fab, 
58, 164 ; Fulgentius, iii. 8. The word 
^lyrrha or Smyrna is borrowed from the 
Phoenician (Liddell and Scott, Creek 

Lexicon^ s,v. ofuOft¥a). Hence the 
mother's name, as well as the son's, 
was taken directly from the Semites. 

^ Schol. on Theocritus, iii. 48 ; 
Hyginus, Astronom, ii. 7 ; Ludan, 
Dialo!^, deer. xi. I ; Comutus, De 
naiura deorum^ 28, p. 163 iq, ed. 
Osannus ; ApoUodorus, iii. 14. 4. 






rites in many lands. We may, therefore, accept as probable 
an explanation of the Adonis worship which accords so well 
with the facts of nature and with the analogy of similar rites 
in other lands, and which besides is countenanced by a con- 
siderable body of opinion amongst the ancients themselves.^ 
The character of Tammuz or Adonis as a corn-spirit 
comes out plainly in an account of his festival given by an 
Arabic writer of the tenth century. In describing the rites 
and sacrifices observed at the different seasons of the year 
by the heathen Syrians of Harran, he says : — " Tammuz 
(July). In the middle of this month is the festival of 
el-BQg4t, that is, of the weeping women, and this is the 
T4-UZ festival, which is celebrated in honour of the god 
T4-UZ. The women bewail him, because his lord slew him 
so cruelly, ground his bones in a mill, and then scattered 
them to the wind. The women (during this festival) eat 
nothing which has been ground in a mill, but limit their diet 
to steeped wheat, sweet vetches, dates, raisins, and the like." * 
T4-UZ, who is no other than Tammuz, is here like Burns's 
John Barleycorn — 

**They wasted o'er a scorching flame 
The marrow of his bones ; 
But a miller us'd him worst of all — 

For he crushed him between two stones." ^ 

But perhaps the best proof that Adonis was a deity of 
vegetation is furnished by the gardens of Adonis, as they 

' Schol. on Theocritus, iii. 48, 
6 'A^wvtr, ^fTOvy h ffiro% h <rirc(p6/i«vof, 
t^ fiiji^at iv r J 7J irocc? diri rrji ffwopas 
Kai i^ fi^vas ix^^ airrbw 17 'A4>po8in^, 
rovriirriP yf tincpaola- rod dipot, Kal 
iKT&rt \afj^P0V9iP ai>rdr 01 dy$pwiroi, 
Jerome on Ezech. c. viii. 14 : •* Eadent 
Xintilitas httjus(cm<kii fabulas poetarum^ 
qtiat habent turpituditum^ tnterpretatitr 
subtil iter inierfediomm et resunrctionetn 
Adonidis planet n et gaudio prosfquens : 
tjuoriini altcrum in seminibus^ quae 
moriuntur in terra^ alterum in sej^ti- 
btiSt quibits vtortua semina renauuntnr^ 
ostendi ptital,^* Ammianus Marcellinus, 
xix. I. II : ** in solleninilnts Adonidis 
sotris^ quod simulturttm aliquod esse 
frutpim euiultarum reli^ones mystiitu 
docent, " ///. , xxii. 9. 1 5 : **amato I 'eneris, 

ut fabuleu fingunt^ apri dente ferali 
delete^ quod in adultoflore seetartim est 
indicium frugumJ*'* Clemens Alexandr. 
HoM, 6. II (quoted by W. Mann- 
hardt, Antike IVald- und Feldkulte^ p. 
281): Xa/u/S^oMri de koX "AdtMnw tit 
wpaioif Kafntodt. Etymolog. Magn. s,v. 
'Adctfvtt K^faw h'upaToi koX 6 ica/nrbt 
(Jpai adwrir* ofoi^ ddc6rccor Kapwbt, 
dp^CKtop. Eusebius, Pnupar, Evafig, 
iii. II. 9: *A5(jrir r^ rwv rcXc/civ 
KapirQiW iKTOfifjt in^/ipokoi^. 

- D. Chwolsohn, Die Ssabier und 
der SsabisfMus, ii. 27 ; n/., C/eber 
Janiniliz umf die Mefisckenverekruttg 
bei den alien Babylonient^ p. 38. 

' The comparison is due to Felix 
Liebrecht {Zur Volkskundc^ p. 259). 




were called. These were baskets or pots filled with earth, 
in which wheat, barley, lettuces, fennel, and various kinds of 
flowers were sown and tended for eight days, chiefly or 
'exclusively by women. Fostered by the sun's heat, the 
plants shot up rapidly, but having no root withered as 
rapidly away, and at the end of eight days were carried out 
with the images of the dead Adonis, and flung with them 
into the sea or into springs.^ At Athens these ceremonies 
were observed at midsummer. For we know that the fleet 
which Athens fitted out against Syracuse, and by the 
destruction of which her power was permanently crippled, 
sailed at midsummer, and by an ominous coincidence the 
sombre rites of Adonis were being celebrated at the very 
time. As the troops marched down to the harbour to 
embark, the streets through which they passed were lined 
with coflins and corpse-like efligies, and the air was rent 
with the noise of women wailing for the dead Adonis. The 
circumstance cast a gloom over the sailing of the most 
splendid armament that Athens ever sent to sea.* 

These gardens of Adonis are most naturally interpreted 
as representatives of Adonis or manifestations of his power ; 
they represented him, true to his original nature, in vegetable 
form, while the images of him, with which they were carried 
out and cast into the water, represented him in his later 
human form. All these Adonis ceremonies, if I am right, 
were originally intended as charms to promote the growth 
and revival of vegetation ; and the principle by which they 
were supposed to produce this effect was imitative or 
sympathetic magic. As I explained in the first chapter, 
primitive people suppose that by representing or mimicking 


^ For the authorities see Raoul 
Rochette, " M^oire sur les jardins 
d' Adonis,'* Revue ArclUohgique^ viii. 
(1851), pp. 97-123; W. Mannhardt, 
Antike IVaid- und FeldkuUe^ p. 279, 
note 2, and p. 280, note 2. To the 
authorities cited by Mannhardt add 
Theophrastus, Hist, Plaui, vi. 7. 3 ; 
u/., De Cattsis Plant. L 12. 2 ; Gre- 
gorios Cyprius, 1.7; Macarius, i. 63 ; 
Apostolius, i. 34 ; Diogenianus, i. I4 ; 
Plutarch, De sera num, vind, 17. 
Women only are mentioned as plant- 
ing the gardens of Adonis by Plutarch, 

I.e. ; Julian, Comnviuni^ p. 329 ed. 
Spanheim (p. 423 ed. Hertlein) ; Eu- 
stathius on Ilomer, Od, xL 590. On the 
other hand, Apostolius and Diogenianus 
(//. cc, ) say ^TctWret i) ^vrtCovatu, The 
procession at the festival of Adonis is 
mentioned in an Attic description of 
302 or 301 B.C. (Dittenberger, Sylloge 
luseriptiouum Graeearttm^ No. 427}. 

« Plutarch, Alcibiades, 18; id,, 
Nicicu^ 13. The date of the sailing of 
the fleet is given by Thuc}'dides, vi. 30, 
$4poit fuffovirrot IIStj, 






the effect which they desire to produce they actually help to 
produce it ; thus by sprinkling water they make rain, by 
lighting a fire they make sunshine, and so on. Similarly, 
by mimicking the growth of crops they hope to ensure a 
good harvest The rapid growth of the wheat and barley 
in the gardens of Adonis was intended to make the corn 
shoot up ; and the throwing of the gardens and of the 
images into the water was a charm to secure a due supply 
of fertilising rain.^ The same, I take it, was the object of 
throwing the effigies of Death and the Carnival into water 
in the corresponding ceremonies of modem Europe. We 
have seen that the custom of drenching with water a leaf- 
clad person, who undoubtedly personifies vegetation, is still 
resorted to in Europe for the express purpose of producing 
rain.* Similarly the custom of throwing water on the last 
com cut at harvest, or on the person who brings it home (a 
custom observed in Germany and France, and till quite 
lately in England and Scotland), is in some places practised 
with the avowed intent to procure rain for the next year's 
crops. Thus in Wallachia and amongst the Roumanians 
of Transylvania, when a girl is bringing home a crown made 
of the last ears of corn cut at harvest, all who meet her 
hasten to throw water on her, and two farm-servants are 
placed at the door for the purpose ; for they believe that if 
this were not done, the crops next year would perish from 
drought* So amongst the Saxons of Transylvania, the 
person who wears the wreath made of the last corn cut (some- 
times the reaper who cut the last corn also wears the wreath) 
is drenched with water to the skin ; for the wetter he is the 

^ In hot southern countries like 
Egypt and the Semitic regions of 
Western Asia, where vegetation de- 
pends chiefly or entirely upon irriga- 
tion, the purpose of the charm is 
doubtless to secure a plentiful flow 
of water in the streams. But as the 
ultimate object and the charms for 
securing it are the same in both cases, 
it has not been thought necessar)* 
always to point out the distinction. 

* See vol. i. p. 94 sqq. 

" W. Mannhardt, Baiimkultus, p. 
214 ; W. Schmidt, Dasjahr ttfid stint 

Tafft in Meinuttf^ utid Brauch der 
Ronuiiien Siebenbtirgefis^ p. 18 sq. 
The custom of throwing water on the 
last waggon-load of com returning from 
the harvest-field has been practised 
within living memory in Wigtownshire, 
and at Orwell in Cambridgeshire. See 
Folk'lori Journal ^ vii. (1 889), pp. 50, 
51. (In the first of these passages the 
Orwell at which the custom used to be 
observed is said to be in Kent ; this 
was a mistake of mine, which my 
informant, the Kev. £. B. Birks, 
formerly Fellow of Trinity College, 
Cambridge, afterwards corrected.) 




better will be next year's harvest, and the more grain there 
will be threshed out^ In Northern Euboea, when the corn- 
sheaves have been piled in a stack, the farmer's wife brings a 
pitcher of water and offers it to each of the labourers that 
he may wash his hands. Every man, after he has washed 
his hands, sprinkles water on the corn and on the threshing- 
floor, expressing at the same time a wish that the corn may 
last long. Lastly, the farmer's wife holds the pitcher slant- 
ingly and runs at full speed round the stack without spilling 
a drop, while she utters a wish that the stack may endure as 
long as the circle she has just described.^ At the spring 
ploughing in Prussia, when the ploughmen and sowers 
returned in the evening from their work in the fields, the 
farmer's wife and the servants used to splash water over 
them. The ploughmen and sowers retorted by seizing every 
one, throwing them into the pond, and ducking them under 
the water. The farmer's wife might claim exemption on 
payment of a forfeit ; but every one else had to be ducked. 
By observing this custom they hoped to ensure a due 
supply of rain for the seed * Also after harvest in Prussia, 
the person who wore a wreath made of the last com cut 
was drenched with water, while a prayer was uttered that 
"as the corn had sprung up and multiplied through the 
water, so it might spring up and multiply in the barn and 
granary." * At Schlanow, in Brandenburg, when .the sowers 
return home from the first sowing they are drenched 
with water "in order that the corn may grow."* In 
Anhalt on the same occasion the farmer is still often 
sprinkled with water by his family ; and his men and 
horses and even the plough receive the same treatment. 
The object of the custom, as people at Arensdorf explained 
It, is "to wish fertility to the fields for the whole year."*** 

! t 

^ G. A. Heinrich, Agrarische Siften 
tmd Gebrducke unter den Sachseit 
SUhenbiirgens (Hermanstadt, 1880), 
p. 24 ; Wlislocki, Siiien und Bratich 
der SUhenbiirger Sachsen (Hamburg, 
1888), p. 32. 

* G. Drosinis, Land und Leutc in 
Nord'EuhikL (Lcipsic, 1884), p. 53. 

^ Matthaus Praetorius Delia ae Prus- 
sifoe^ p. 55 ; W. Mannhardt, Bautn- 

kultus^ p. 214 x^., note. 

*• Praetorius, op, ^, p. 60 ; W. Mann- 
hardt, BaumkiilttiSf p. 215, note. 

• H. Prahn, **Glaube und Brauch 
in der Mark lirandenburg,** Zeitsehrift 
des Vereins fiir Volkskundey i. (1 891), 
p. 186. 

« O. Hartung, ''Zur Volkskundc 
aus .\nhalt," Zeitsehrift des Vercins 
fiir I'oikskunde, vii. (1897), p. 1 50. 




So in Hesse, when the ploughmen return with the plough 
from the field for the first time, the women and girls 
lie in wait for them and slyly drench them with water.^ 
Near Naaburg, in Bavaria, the man who first comes back 
from sowing or ploughing has a vessel of water thrown 
over him by some one in hiding.* Before the Tusayan 
Indians of North America go out to plant their fields, 
the women sometimes pour water on them ; the reason 
for doing so is that "as the water is poured on the 
men, so may water fall on the planted fields."* A 
Babylonian legend, preserved in a cuneiform inscription, 
relates how the goddess Ishtar (Astarte, Aphrodite) went 
down "to the land from which there is no returning, to 
the house of darkness, where dust lies on door and bolt," 
to fetch the water of life wherewith to restore to life the 
dead Tammuz, and it appears that the water was thrown 
over him at a great mourning ceremony, at which men and 
women stood round the funeral pyre of Tammuz lamenting.* 
This l^end, as Mannhardt points out, is probably a mythi- 
cal explanation of a Babylonian festival resembling the 
Syrian festival of Adonis. At the festival, which doubtless 
took place in the month Tammuz (June-July)* and there- 

» W. Kolbe, Hessische Volks-SUten 
tmd Gebriiuche^ P* 5'* 

^ Bavaria^ Landes- utid Volkskunde 
dts KUnigreichs Buyent^ ii. 297. 

* J. Walter Fcwkes, •* The Tusa3ran 
New Fire Ceremony," IVocetdings of 
the Boston Society of Natural History^ 
xxvi. (1895), p. 446. 

* F. Lcnormanl, ** II mito di Adone- 
Tammuz nei document! cuneiformi," 
Atti del IV, Congresso Internazionale 
degli Orient alisti (Florence, 18S0), i, 
157 sqq, ; A. H. Sayce, Relifiion of the 
atuient Babylonians (Hibbert Lectures, 
1837), p. 221 sqq.; W. Mannhardt, 
Antike Wold- und Feldkulte^ p. 275 ; 
A. Jeremias, Die Bahylonisch-Assy- 
rischen Vorstellungen rwn Lcben nach 
dem 72k/tf (Leipsic, 18S7), p. 4 sqq.\ 
id,^ in Roscher's I^xikon dcr griech, 
und rom, MythoL^ s.v. *• Nergal," iii. 
257 sqq, ; Maspero, Histoire A mien fie 
des peuples de F Orient elassique : les 
origiius^ pp. 693-696 ; M. Jastrow, 
Religion of Babylonia and Assyria^ p. 

563 sqq, 

* According to Jerome (on Ezechiel, 
viii. 14), Tammuz was June ; but 
according to modem scholars the 
month corresponded rather to July, 
or to part of June and part of July. 
See Movers, Die Phoenizier^ i. 210; 
F. Lenormant, op, (it. p. 144 sq,\ 
Mannhardt, A,W,F, p. 275. My 
friend \V. Robertson Smith informed 
me that owing to the variations of 
the local Syrian calendars the month 
Tammuz fell in different places at 
different times, from midsummer to 
autumn, or from June to September. 
It is mentioned in a letter of a king of 
Babylon to Amenophis IV., king of 
Eg)'pt, which forms part of the cele- 
brated correspondence found at Tell-el- 
Amama in Kgypt some years ago. 
See M. J*. lia\c\'y/infoitrnalAsiatiqttef 
8me Se'rie. xvi. (1890), p. 31 1 ; The 
Tell ElAwarna Tablets in the British 
Museum (London^ 1892), p. xxix. Ac- 
cording to Mr. M. Jastrow, the annual 




fore about midsummer, the dead Tammuz was probably re- 
presented in effigy, water was poured over him, and he came 
to life again. This Babylonian legend is, therefore, of 
importance, since it confirms the view that the purpose for 
which the images and gardens of Adonis were thrown into the 
water was to effect the resurrection of the god, that is, to secure 
the revival of vegetation. The connection of Tammuz with 
vegetation is proved by a fragment of a Babylonian hymn, 
in which Tammuz is described as dwelling in the midst of a 
great tree at the centre of the earth.^ 

The opinion that the gardens of Adonis are essentially 
charms to promote the growth of vegetation, especially of the 
crops, and that they belong to the same class of customs as 
those spring and midsummer folk-customs of modern Europe 
which have been described, does not rest for its evidence 
merely on the intrinsic probability of the case. Fortunately, 
we are able to show that gardens of Adonis (if we may use 
the expression in a general sense) are still planted, first, by 
a primitive race at their sowing season, and, second, by 
European peasants at midsummer. Amongst the Oraons 
and Mundas of Bengal, when the time comes for planting 
out the rice which has been grown in seed-beds, a party of 
young people of both sexes go to the forest and cut a young 
Karma-tree, or the branch of one. Bearing it in triumph 
they return dancing, singing, and beating drums, and plant 
it in the middle of the village dancing-ground. A sacrifice 
is offered to the tree ; and next morning the youth of both 
sexes, linked arm-in-arm, dance in a great circle round the 
Karma-tree, which is decked with strips of coloured cloth 
and sham bracelets and necklets of plaited straw. As a 
preparation for the festival, the daughters of the head-man 
of the village cultivate blades of barley in a peculiar way. 
The seed is sown in moist, sandy soil, mixed with turmeric, 
and the blades sprout and unfold of a pale yellow or prim- 

mourning for Tammuz at Babylon was 
maintained to a very late period, and 
regularly fell just before the summer 
solstice {Religion of Babylonia and 
Assyria^ p. 547). 

* A. H. Sayce, op. «/. p. 238. 
Jensen remarks of the Babylonian 
Du'uzu or Tammuz that "there can 

be no doubt that he is originally the 
spring vegetation, which dies in his 
month Tammuz or Du*uzu'* {Kosmologie 
der Babylonier (Strasburg, 1890), p. 
480). Similarly Jastrow affirms that 
Tammuz is ** the god of spring vegeta- 
tion " ( The Religion of Babylonia and 
Assyria^ p. 588). 


Ill JN INDIA 125 

rose colour. On the day of the festival the girls take up 
these blades and carry them in baskets to the dancing- 
ground, where, prostrating themselves reverentially, they 
place some of the plants before the Karma-tree. Finally, 
the Karma-tree is taken away and thrown into a stream or 
tank.^ The meaning of planting these barley blades and 
then presenting them to the Karma-tree is hardly open to 
question. We have seen that trees are supposed to exercise 
a quickening influence upon the growth of crops, and that 
amongst the very people in question — the Mundas or Mun- 
daris — "the grove deities are held responsible for the 
crops." ^ Therefore, when at the season for planting out 
the rice the Mundas bring in a tree and treat it with 
so much respect, their object can only be to foster thereby 
the growth of the rice which is about to be planted out ; 
and the custom of causing barley blades to sprout rapidly 
and then presenting them to the tree must be intended to 
subserve the same purpose, perhaps by reminding the tree- 
spirit of his duty towards the crops, and stimulating his 
activity by this visible example of rapid vegetable growth. 
The throwing of the Karma-tree into the water is to be 
interpreted as a rain-charm. Whether the barley blades are 
also thrown into the water is not said ; but if my interpre- 
tation of the custom is right, probably they are so. A 
distinction between this Bengal custom and the Greek rites 
of Adonis is that in the former the tree-spirit appears in his 
original form as a tree ; whereas in the Adonis worship he 
appears in human form, represented as a dead man, though 
his vegetable nature is indicated by the gardens of Adonis, 
which are, so to say, a secondary manifestation of his 
original power as a tree-spirit Gardens of Adonis are also 
cultivated by the Hindoos of Northern India, though their 
motive for doing so appears to be unknown. A few days 
before the festival of Salonan, which falls in August, women 
and girls plant some grains of barley in a basket or other 
vessel which contains a little earth ; and the grain sprouts 
to the height of a few inches by the time of the festival. On 
that day the women and girls carry these young barley- 
plants, or blioojarias^ as they are called, to a river or tank 

> Dalton, Ethftohgy of Bettgal^ p. 259. - Vol. i. p. 189. 




and throw them into the water.^ In some parts of Bavaria 
it is customary to sow flax in a pot on the three last days 
of the Carnival ; from the seed which grows best an omen is 
drawn as to whether the early, the middle, or the late sowing 
will produce the best crop.* 

In Sardinia the gardens of Adonis are still planted in 
connection with the great midsummer festival which bears 
the name of St. John. At the end of March or on the first 
of April a young man of the village presents himself to a girl 
and asks her to be his comare (gossip or sweetheart), offering 
to be her compare. The invitation is considered as an honour 
by the girl's family, and is gladly accepted. At the end of 
May the girl makes a pot of the bark of the cork-tree, fills 
it with earth, and sows a handful of wheat and barley in it. 
The pot being placed in the sun and often watered, the corn 
sprouts rapidly and has a good head by Midsummer Eve (St 
John's Eve, the twenty-third of June). The pot is then called 
Ernie or Nenneri, On St John's Day the young man and 
the girl, dressed in their best, accompanied by a long retinue 
and preceded by children gambolling and frolicking, move 
in procession to a church outside the village. Here they 
break the pot by throwing it against the door of the church. 
Then they sit down in a ring on the grass and eat eggs and 
herbs to the music of flutes. Wine is mixed in a cup and 
passed round, each one drinking as it passes. Then they 
join hands and sing " Sweethearts of St John " {Compare e 
comare di San Giovanni) over and over again, the flutes 
playing the while. When they tire of singing they stand 
up and dance gaily in a ring till evening. This is the 
general Sardinian custom. As practised at Ozieri it has 
some special features. In May the pots are made of cork- 
bark and planted with com, as already described. Then on 
the Eve of St. John the window-sills are draped with rich 
cloths, on which the pots are placed, adorned with crimson 
and blue silk and ribbons of various colours. On each of 
the pots they used formerly to place a statuette or cloth doll 
dressed as a woman, or a Priapus-like figure made of paste ; 

^ Baboo Ishuree Dass, Dcmestu ill sq. 
Manners and Customs of the Hindoos of * Bai'aria^ Landes- und Volkskundc 

Northern India (Benares, i860), p. dts Konigreichs Bayem^ ii. 298. 




but this custom, rigorously forbidden by the Church, has 
fallen into disuse. The village swains go about in a troop 
to look at the pots and their decorations and to wait for the 
girls, who assemble on the public square to celebrate the 
festival. Here a great bonfire is kindled, round which they 
dance and make merry. Those who wish to be " Sweet- 
hearts of St. John " act as follows. The young man stands 
on one side of the bonfire and the girl on the other, and 
they, in a manner, join hands by each grasping one end of a 
long stick, which they pass three times backwards and for- 
wards across the fire, thus thrusting their hands thrice rapidly 
into the flames. This seals their relationship to each other. 
Dancing and music go on till late at night.^ The corre- 
spondence of these Sardinian pots of grain to the gardens of 
Adonis seems complete, and the images formerly placed in 
them answer to the images of Adonis which accompanied 
his gardens. 

This Sardinian usage is one of those midsummer 
customs, once celebrated in many parts of Europe, a chief 
feature of which is the great bonfire round which people 
dance and over which they leap. Examples of these cus- 
toms have already been cited from Sweden and Bohemia.* 
These examples sufficiently prove the connection of the mid- 
summer bonfire with vegetation ; for both in Sweden and 
Bohemia an essential part of the festival is the raising of a 
May-pole or Midsummer-tree, which in Bohemia is burned in 
the bonfire. Again, in the Russian midsummer ceremony 
cited above,' the straw figure of Kupalo, the representative 
of vegetation, is placed beside a May-pole or Midsummer- 
tree and then carried to and fro across a bonfire. Kupalo is 
here represented in duplicate, in tree-form by the Midsummer- 
tree, and in human form by the straw effigy, just as Adonis 
was represented both by an image and a garden of Adonis ; 
and the duplicate representatives of Kupalo, like those of 

' Antonio Bresciani, Dei costumi Sardcgna," Archhio per h studio delle 

dcir isola di Sarde^ta comparcUi eogli tradizioui popohiri^ vii. (1888), p. 469 

autichissimi po/wii orientali (Rome sq. Tcnnant says that the pots are kept 

and Turin, 1866), p. 427 sq.\ R. in a dark warm place, and that the 

Tennant, Sardinia and its Resources children leap across the fire. 

(Rome and London, 1885), p. 187 ; S. * Vol. i. p. 202 sq, 

Gabriele, " Usi dci contadini della » P. 105. 




Adonis, are finally cast into water. In the Sardinian custom 
the Gossips or Sweethearts of St John probably correspond 
to the Lord and Lady or King and Queen of May. In the 
Swedish province of Blekinge part of the midsummer festival 
is the election of a Midsummer Bride, who chooses her bride- 
groom ; a collection is made for the pair, who for the time 
being are looked upon as man and wife.^ Such Midsummer 
pairs are probably, like the May pairs, representatives of the 
spirit of vegetation in its reproductive capacity ; they re- 
present in flesh and blood what the images of Siva and 
Pirvat! in the Indian ceremony, and the images of Adonis 
and Aphrodite in the Alexandrian ceremony, represented in 

The reason why ceremonies whose aim is to foster the 
growth of vegetation should thus be associated with bonfires ; 
why in particular the representative of vegetation should be 
burned in tree form or passed across the fire in effigy or in 
the form of a living couple, will be explained later on. 
Here it is enough to have proved the fact of such association 
and therefore to have obviated the objection which might have 
been raised to my interpretation of the Sardinian custom, on 
the ground that the bonfires have nothing to do with vegeta- 
tion. One more piece of evidence may here be given to 
prove the contrary. In some parts of Germany young men 
and girls leap over midsummer bonfires for the express 
purpose of making the hemp or flax grow tall.* We may, 
therefore, assume that in the Sardinian custom the blades of 
wheat and barley which are forced on in pots for the mid- 
summer festival, and which correspond so closely to the 
gardens of Adonis, form one of those widely-spread mid- 
summer ceremonies, the original object of which was to 
promote the growth of vegetation, and especially of the crops. 
But as, by an easy extension of ideas, the spirit of v^etation 
was believed to exercise a beneficent and fertilising influence on 
human as well as animal life, the gardens of Adonis would be 
supposed, like the May-trees or May-boughs, to bring good 
luck to the family or to the person who planted them ; 

* L. Lloyd, Peasant Life in Sweden^ 
P- 257. 

- W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, p. 

464 ; Leoprechting, Ausdem Leckrain^ 
p. 183. More evidence of customs 
and beliefs of this sort will be adduced 
in the last chapter of this work. 





and even after the idea had been abandoned that they 
operated actively to bring prosperity, omens might still be 
drawn from them as to the good or bad fortune of families 
or individuals. It is thus that magic dwindles into 
divination. Accordingly we find modes of divination 
practised at midsummer which resemble more or less 
closely the gardens of Adonis. Thus an anonymous 
Italian writer of the sixteenth century has recorded that it 
was customary to sow barley and wheat a few days before 
the festival of St. John (Midsummer Day) and also before 
that of St Vitus ; and it was believed that the person for 
whom they were sown would be fortunate and get a gopd 
husband or a good wife, if the g^ain sprouted well ; but if 
it sprouted ill, he or she would be unlucky.^ In various 
parts of Italy and all over Sicily it is still customary to put 
plants in water or in earth on the Eve of St John, and from 
the manner in which they are found to be blooming or 
fading pn St John's Day omens are drawn, especially as to 
fortune in love. Amongst the plants used for this purpose 
are Ciuri di S, Giuvanni (St John's wort?) and nettles.^ In 
Prussia two hundred years ago the farmers used to send out 
their servants, especially their maids, to gather St John's 
wort on Midsummer Eve or Midsummer Day (St John's 
Day). When they had fetched it, the farmer took as many 
plants as there were persons and stuck them in the wall or 
between the beams ; and it was thought that the person 
whose plant did not bloom would soon fall sick or die. The 
rest of the plants were tied in a bundle, fastened to the end 
of a pole, and set up at the gate or wherever the corn would 
be brought in at the next harvest This bundle was called 
Kupole ; the ceremony was known as Kupole's festival ; and 
at it the farmer prayed for a good crop of hay, and so forth.* 
This Prussian custom is particularly notable, inasmuch as it 
strongly confirms the opinion expressed above that Kupalo 

' G. Pitr^ SpettacoU e feste popolari St. John's Day for a similar purpose, 

si(ilia9t€y p. 296 sq, but the mode in which the omens are 

^ G. Pitre, op, cit. p. 302 sq. ; drawn is somewhat diflferent {Archivio 

Antonio de Nino, Usi Ahruzzesi, i* 55 A'* ^^ studio delU traditioni popolari ^ 

sq.\ Gubernatis, Usi Nuziali^ p. 39 sq. vii. (188S), p. 12S sq.), 
Cp. Archivio per lo studio delU tradi- ^ Matthaus Praetorius, Deliaae 

zioni popolari^ \, 135. At Smyrna a Prussicae^ herausgegeben von Dr. W. 

blossom of the Agnus castus is used on Pierson (Berlin, 1871), p. 56. 



(doubtless identical with Kupole) was originally a deity of 
vegetation.^ For here Kupalo is represented by a bundle of 
plants specially associated with midsummer in folk-custom ; 
and her influence over vegetation is plainly signified by 
placing her vegetable emblem over the place where the 
harvest is brought in, as well as by the prayers for a good 
crop which are uttered on the occasion. This furnishes a 
fresh argument in support of the view that the Death, whose ' 
analogy to Kupalo, Yarilo, and the rest has been shown, ! 
originally personified vegetation, more especially the dying or i ^ 
dead vegetation of winter. Further, my interpretation of 
the gardens of Adonis is confirmed by finding that in this 
Prussian custom the very same kind of plants is used to 
form the gardens of Adonis (as we may call them) and the 
image of the deity. Nothing could set in a stronger light 
the truth of the theory that the gardens of Adonis are merely 
another manifestation of the god himself. 

The last example of the gardens of Adonis which I shall 
cite is reported from Sicily. At the approach of Blaster, 
Sicilian women sow wheat, lentils, and canary-seed in plates, 
which arc kept in the dark and watered every two days. The 
plants soon shoot up ; the stalks are tied together with red 
ribbons, and the plates containing them are placed on the 
sepulchres which, with effigies of the dead Christ, are made 
up in Roman Catholic and Greek churches on Good Friday,* 
just as the gardens of Adonis were placed on the grave of 
the dead Adonis.* The whole custom — sepulchres as well 
as plates of sprouting grain — is probably nothing but a con- 
tinuation, under a different name, of the Adonis worship. 

§ 5. Attis 

The next of those gods, whose supposed death and 
resurrection struck such deep roots into the religious faith 
and ritual of Western Asia, is Attis. He was to Phrygia 
what Adonis was to Syria. Like Adonis, he appears to 

^ See. p. 107 iq, ceremonies in the Greek Church, see 

* G. Pitr^, Speitiuoli efeste popolari R. A. Arnold, From the Levant 

sicitiatUy p. 211. A similar custom (London, 1868), i. 251 sqq. 

is observed at Cosenza in Calabria 

(Vincenzo Dorsa, La tradizione grtco- ^ r^oit Ctalovp hnra^ovt 'ABwPtSi, 

tatifta, etc, p. 50). For the Easter Eustathius on Homer, 0(/. xi. 590. 




have been a god of vegetation, and his death and resurrection 
were annually mourned and rejoiced over at a festival in 
spring. The legends and rites of the two gods were so much 
alike that the ancients themselves sometimes identified them.^ 
Attis was said to have been a fair youth who was beloved 
by the great Phrygian goddess Cybele. Two different 
accounts of his death were current. According to the one, 
he was killed by a boar, like Adonis. According to the 
other, he mutilated himself under a pine-tree, and died from 
the effusion of blood. The latter is said to have been the 
local story told by the people of Pessinus, a great centre of 
Cybele worship, and the whole legend of which it forms a 
part is stamped with a character of rudeness ^md savagery 
that speaks strongly for its antiquity.^ But the other story 
seems also to have been firmly believed, for his worshippers, 
especially the people of Pessinus, abstained from eating 
swine.' After his death Attis is said to have been changed 
into a pine-tree.^ The ceremonies observed at his festival 
are not very fully known, but their general order appears to 
have been as follows.* At the spring equinox (the twenty- 
second of March) a pine-tree was cut in the woods and 
brought into the sanctuary of Cybele, where it was treated 
as a divinity. It was adorned with woollen bands and 
wreaths of violets, for violets were said to have sprung from 
the blood of Attis, as anemones from the blood of Adonis ; 
and the eflligy of a young man was attached to the middle 
of the tree.* On the second day of the festival (the twenty- 

^ Hippolytus, Refut, ontii. hatres, 
V. 9, p. 168, ed. Diincker and 
Schneidewin ; Socrates, Hist, EccUs, 

iii. 23» §8 5> Jy^- P- 204. 

< That Attis was killed by a boar 
was stated by Hermesianax, an elegiac 
poet of the fourth century B.C. (Pau- 
sanias, vii. 17); cp. Schol. on Nicander, 
AUx. 8. The other story is told by 
Arnobius {Adversits ttatioms, v. 5 jyy. ), 
on the authority of Timotheus. an other- 
wise unknown writer, who professed to 
derive it " ex rtconditis antiqiiitaium 
libris et ex intimis my f ten is.** It is 
obviously identical with the account 
which Pausanias mentions {i,c, ) as the 
stor}' current in I*essinus. 

' Pausanias, vii. 17 ; Julian, Orai, 
V. 177 B, p. 229, ed. Ilertlein. 

* Ovid, Met am, x. 103 sqq. 

^ On the festival see especially Mar- 
quardt, Riimische Staatsz*erwaltuftg^ 
iii.^ 370 stfq. ; Daremberg et Saglio, 
Dictionnaire des Antiquit/s grecques 
et romaines^ i. col. 1685 sq, (article 
«* Cybele"); W. Mannhardt, Antike 
Wald- und Feldkulte^ p. 291 sqq, ; 
iV/., Baumkultus^ p. 572 jyy. 

^ Julian, Orat. v. 168 C ; Joannes 
Lydus, De mettsibtis^ iv. 41 ; Arnobius, 
Adz'ers, natioius, v. 7 and 16 sq. % 
Firmicus Matemus, De err are pro/an, 
relig. 27. 




third of March) the chief ceremony seems to have been a 
blowing of trumpets.^ The third day (the twenty-fourth of 
March) was known as the Day of Blood : the high priest drew 
blood from his arms and presented it as an offering.^ It was 
perhaps on this day or night that the mourning for Attis 
took place over an effigy, which was afterwards solemnly 
buried.* The fourth day (the twenty-fifth of March) was 
the Festival of Joy {Hilarid), at which the resurrection of 
Attis was probably celebrated — ^at least the celebration of his 
resurrection seems to have followed closely upon that of his 
death* The Roman festival closed on the twenty-seventh 
of March with a procession to the brook Almo, in which 
the bullock-cart of the goddess, her image, and other sacred 
objects were bathed. But this bath of the goddess is known 
to have also formed part of the festival in her Asiatic home. 
On returning from the water the cart and oxen were strewn 
with fresh spring flowers.* 

The origrinal character of Attis as a tree-spirit is brought 
out plainly by the part which the pine-tree plays in his 
legend and ritual. The story that he was a human 
being transformed into a pine-tree is only one of those 

1 Julian, I.e. and 169 c 

< Trebellius Pollio, Claudius, 4 ; 
Tertullian, Apohget. 25. For other 
authorities see Marquardt, Lc. 

' Diodonis, iii. 59 ; Firmicus 
Matemus, De err, profan, rtlig, 3 ; 
Amobius, Adoers, nai. y. 16 ; Schol. 
on Nicander, Alex. 8 ; Servios on 
Virgil, Aen. ix. 116; Arrian, Tactica^ 
33. The ceremony described in Fir- 
micus Matemus, ch. 22 {**nocte quadam 
simulacrum in lectica supinum ponitur 
et per numeros digestis Jletibus plan- 
gitur. . . . Idolum upelis, Idolum 
plangis^^ elc.)i may very well be the 
mourning and funeral rites of Attis, to 
which he had more briefly referred in 
ch. 3. 

^ On the Hilaria see Macrobius, 
Saturn. \. 21. lO; Julian, Orat. v. 
168 D, 169 D ; Damascius, Vita 
Isidori, in I'hotius, Bibliotheca, p. 
345 A 5 sqq. ed. Bekker. On the 
resurrection, see Firmicus Maternus, 
De err ore prof an. relig. 3 : **reginae suae 
amorem \Phryges\ cum luctibus eumuis 

consecrarunt, ei ut satis iratae mulieri 
facerent out ut paenitenti solacium 
quaererent, quem paulo ante sepelierant 
revixissejactarunt, • . . Mortem ipsius 
[i.e. of Attis] dicunt^ quod semina 
colUeta eonduntor, vitcun rursus quod 
jacta umina ammtis tncibus f recon- 
dufttur** [renascuntur, C. Halm]. 
Again compare id., 22:* * Idolum sepelis. 
Idolum plangis, idolum de sepulturapro- 
feris, et miser cum kaec feceris gaudes " ; 
and Damascius, l.c. rV rbw Wapkw 
KoXw/jJrriP ioprifp' 9wep ii^Xov ri/y ^( 
$^ov ytyopviap iui£m atenifUp. This last 
passage, compared with the formula in 
Firmicus Matemus, op. cit. 22. 

$afip€irt fi^rrtu rev $€ou 0€ow/Upov' 
foroi yiip IffUM ix wh»ia9 oiorripUi, 

makes it probable that the ceremony 
described by Firmicus in this passage is 
the resunection of Attis. 

* Ovid, Fast. iv. 337 sqq. ; Am- 
mianus Marcellinus, xxiii. 3. For 
other references see Marquardt and 
Mannhardt, ll.ce. 

I V 


transparent attempts at rationalising old beliefs which 
meet us so frequently in mythology. His tree origin is 
further attested by the story that he was bom of a virgin, 
who conceived by putting in her bosom a ripe almond or 
pomegranate.^ The bringing in of the pine-tree from the 
wood, decked with violets and woollen bands, is like bringing 
in the May-tree or Summer-tree in modern folk-custom ; and 
the effigy which was attached to the pine-tree was only a 
duplicate representative of the tree-spirit or Attis. At what 
point of the ceremonies the violets and the effigy were 
attached to the tree is not said, but we should assume this 
to be done after the mimic death and burial of Attis. The 
fastening of his effigy to the tree would then be a repre- 
sentation of his coming to life again in tree-form, just as the 
placing of the shirt worn by the effigy of Death upon a tree 
represents the revival of the spirit of vegetation in a new 
form.^ After being attached to the tree, the effigy was kept 
for a year and then burned.* We have seen that this was 
apparently sometimes done with the May-pole ; * and we 
shall see presently that the effigy of the corn-spirit, made at 
harvest, is often preserved till it is replaced by a new effigy 
at next year's harvest. The original intention of thus 
keeping the effigy for a year and then replacing it by a new 
one was doubtless to maintain the spirit of vegetation in 
fresh and vigorous life. The bathing of the image of Cybele 
was probably a rain-charm, like the throwing of the effigies 
of Death and of Adonis into the water. Like tree-spirits in 
general, Attis appears to have been conceived as exercising 
power over the growth of corn, or even to have been identified 
with the corn. One of his epithets was "very fruitful"; he 
was addressed as the " reaped green (or yellow) ear of com," 
and the story of his sufferings, death, and resurrection was 
interpreted as the ripe grain wounded by the reaper, buried 
in the granary, and coming to life again when sown in the 
ground.* His worshippers abstained from eating seeds and 
the roots of vegetables,* just as at the Adonis ceremonies 

^ Paosanias, vii. 17 ; Arnobius, Adi\ rtlig, 27. * Vol. i. p. 305 sq. 

ncUiones^ v. 6 ; comjiare Hippolytus, * Hippolytus, Ref. omn, haeres, v. 

Rrfut, omn. hatres, y. % \»X>. i66t \6^, 8 and 9, pp. 162, 168; Firmicus 

* Sec above, p. 93. Matemus, De errore prof, relig, 3. 

' Firmicus Maternus, De errore prof , • Julian, Orai, v. 174 A B. 




women abstained from eating corn ground in a mill. Such 
acts would probably have been deemed a sacril^ious 
partaking of the life or of the bruised and broken body 
of the god. 

From inscriptions it appears that both at Pessinus and 
Rome the high priest of Cybele was regularly called Attis.^ 
It is therefore a reasonable conjecture that the high priest 
played the part of the legendary Attis at the annual festival.^ 
We have seen that on the Day of Blood he drew blood from 
his arms, and this may have been an imitation of the self- 
inflicted death of Attis under the pine-tree. It is not incon- 
sistent with this supposition that Attis was also represented 
at these ceremonies by an effigy ; for we have already met 
with instances in which the divine being is first represented 
by a living person and afterwards by an effigy, which is 
then burned or otherwise destroyed.* Perhaps we may 
go a step farther and conjecture that this mimic killing 
of the priest, accompanied by a real effusion of his blood, 
was in Phrygia, as it has been elsewhere, a substitute for 
a human sacrifice which in earlier times was actually offered. 
Professor W. M. Ramsay, whose authority on all questions 
relating to Phrygia no one will dispute, is of opinion that at 
these Phrygian ceremonies "the representative of the god 
was probably slain each year by a cruel death, just as the 
god himself died."* We know from Strabo * that the priests 
of Pessinus were at one time potentates as well as priests ; 
they may, therefore, have belonged to that class of divine 
kings or popes whose duty it was to die each year for their 
people and the world. The name of Attis, it is true, does 
not occur among the names of the old kings of Phrygia, who 
seem to have borne the names of Midas and Gordias in 
alternate generations ; but a very ancient inscription carved 


' Duncker, Gesthuhte des Alttr^ 
thumsf L 456, note 4 ; Roscher, 
Ausfukrliches Lexikon d. griech, w. 
rom. AlythoiogU^ i. col. 724. Cp. 
Polybius, xxii. 20 (18). In two letters 
of Eumenes and Attalus, preserved in 
inscriptiotas at Sivrihissar, the priest at 
Pessinus is addressed as Attis. See 
A. von Domaskewski, ** Briefe der Atta- 
liden an den Priester von Pessinus,** 

ArchatoUgisckt'epigraphische Miithfi- 
IttngtH ttus Oesterreuh • Ungam^ viii. 
(1884), pp. 96. 98. 

' The conjecture is that of Henzen 
in Annal, d, Inst, 1856, p. no, re- 
ferred to in Roscher, Lc. 

' Vol. i. p. 209, vol. iL pp. 30, 62 sq. 

* Article •• Phrygia " in Eticyclo- 
ftedia Britannica^ 9th ed. xviii. 853. 

* xii. 5. 3. 




in the rock above a famous Phrygian monument, which is 
known as the Tomb of Midas, records that the monument 
was made for, or dedicated to, King Midas by a certain Ates, 
whose name is doubtless identical with Attis, and who, if not 
a king himself, may have been one of the royal family.^ It 
is worthy of note also that the name Atys, which again 
appears to be only another form of Attis, is recorded as that 
of an early king of Lydia ;^ and that a son of Croesus, king 
of Lydia, not only bore the name Atys but was said to have 
been killed, while he was hunting a boar, by a member of the 
royal Phrygian family, who traced his lineage to King Midas 
and had fled to the court of Croesus because he had unwit- 
tingly slain his own brother.* Scholars have recognised in 
this story of the death of Atys, son of Croesus, a fnere double 
of the myth of Attis ; * but in view of the facts which have 
come before us in the present inquiry^ it is a curious co- 
incidence, if it is nothing more, that the myth of a slain god 
should be told of a kingfs son. May we conjecture that the 
Phrygian priests who bore the name of Attis and represented 
the god of that name were themselves members, perhaps the 
eldest sons, of the royal house, to whom their fathers, uncles, 
brothers, or other kinsmen deputed the honour of dying a 
violent death in the character of gods, while they reserved to 
themselves the duty of living, as long as nature allowed 
them, in the humbler character of kings ? If this were so, 
the Phrygian dynasty of Midas may have presented a close 
parallel to the Greek dynasty of Athamas, in which the eldest 
sons seem to have been regularly destined to the altar.^ But 
it is also possible that the divine priests who bore the name 
of Attis may have belonged to that indigenous race which 
the Phrygians, on their irruption into Asia from Europe, 

' W. M. Ramsay, in Journal of 
Helienic StndUs^ ix. ( 1 888), p. 379 sqq. \ 
id.f mjouni, I/elUn, Stud, x. ( 1889), p. 
156 jy^.; Perrot et Chipiez, Histoirc 
dc VArt dans V Atttiquiii^ v. 82 sqq. 

^ Herodotus, i. 94. According to 
Prof. W. M. Ramsay, the conquering 
and ruling caste in Lydia belonged to 
the Phr^'gian stock {Journ, of Hell en. 
Stud, ix. (1888), p. 351). 

^ Herodotus, i. 34-45. The cradi- 
•tion that Croesus would allow no iron 

weapon to come near Atys suggests 
that a similar taboo may have been 
imposed on the Phrygian priests named 
Attis. For taboos of this sort, see 
vol. i. p. 344 sqq, 

* Stein on Herodotus, i. 43 ; £d. 
Meyer, s,v, **Atys," in Patilys Real- 
Eneyclopiidie dt-r elassischen Alter' 
tumranssntsthaft^ herausgeg. von Cx. 
Wissowa, ii. 2, col. 2262. 

* See alx)ve, p. 33 sqq- 

* Sec alx)ve, p. 34 sqq. 




appear to have found and conquered in the land afterwards 
known as Phrygia.^ On the latter hypothesis the priests 
may have represented an older and higher civilisation than 
that of their barbarous conquerors. However this may be, 
the god they personated was a deity of vegetation whose 
divine life manifested itself especially in the pine-tree and 
the violets of spring ; and when they died in the character 
of that divinity they corresponded to the mummers who are 
still slain in mimicry by European peasants in spring, and 
to the priest who was slain long ago in grim earnest on the 
wooded shore of the Lake of Nemi. 

Another of these embodiments of the flowery spring may 
have been the fair youth Hyacinth, who was said to have 
been slain unwittingly by Apollo, and whose annual festival 
was celebrated on a great scale by the Spartans at Amyclae. 
The festival fell in spring, and the mourning for the death of 
Hyacinth was followed by rejoicings, probably at the sup- 
posed resurrection of the god. Dancing, singing, and feasting 
went on throughout the day ; and the capital was almost 
emptied of its inhabitants, who poured out in their thousands 
to witness and share the festivities of the happy day. The 
hyacinth — "that sanguine flower inscrib'd with woe" — 
sprang from the blood of the slain divinity, as the scarlet 
anemone grew from the blood of Adonis and the purple violet 
from the blood of Attis ; like these vernal flowers it heralded 
the advent of another spring and gladdened the hearts of 
men with the promise of a joyful resurrection.* One spring, 
when the hyacinths were in bloom, it happened that the 
red-coated Spartan regiments lay encamped under the walls 
of Corinth. Their commander gave the Amyclaean battalion 
leave to go home and celebrate as usual the festival of 
Hyacinth in their native town. But the sad flower was to 
be to these men an omen of death ; for they had not gone 

1 See W. M. Ramsay, j.r. "Phrygia" 
in EncycUpadia Briiannica^ 9th ed. 
xviii. 849 jy. ; id,^ xnjourtt, of HeUen, 
Stud. ix. (1888), p. 350 J^. 

* Herodotus, ix. 7 ; Lucian, De 
saltaiiofu, 45 ; Pausanias, iii. 19. 
3, 4, 5 ; Hesychius, s.v. *£iraro/i- 
/Sci^f ; Athenaeus, iv. p. 139, d-f; Ovid, 

Afetam. x. 161-219 ; PHny, Nat, Hist. 
xxi. 66 ; Schomann, Gritchische Altera 
tkumer^ iL 457 J^. ; S. Wide, Lakanische 
Kulte (Leipsic, 1893), PP- 2^5-293. 
As to the date of the festival, see G. 
F. Unger, in Pkilologtts^ xxxvii. (1877), 
pp. 13*33. according to whom the cele- 
bration took place at the beginning of 





far before they were enveloped by clouds of light-armed foes 
and cut to pieces.^ 

^ 6. Osiris 

There seem to be some grounds for believing that Osiris, 
the great god of ancient Egypt, was one of those personifi- 
cations of vegetation, whose annual death and resurrection 
have been celebrated in so many lands. But as the chief of 
the gods he appears to have absorbed the attributes of other 
deities, so that his character and rites present a complex of 
heterogeneous elements which, with the scanty evidence at 
our disposal, it is hardly possible to sort out. It may be 
worth while, however, to put together some of the facts which 
lend support to the view that Osiris, or at least one of the 
deities out of whom he was compounded, was a god of vege- 
tation, analogous to Adonis and Attis. 

The outline of his myth is as follows.* Osiris was the 
son of the earth-god Qeb (or Seb, as the name is sometimes 
transliterated).* Reigning as a king on earth, he reclaimed 
the Egyptians from savagery, gave them laws, and taught 
them to worship' the gods. Before his time the Egyptians 
had been cannibals. But Isis, the sister and wife of Osiris, 
discovered wheat and barley growing wild, and Osiris intro- 
duced the cultivation of these grains amongst his people, 
who forthwith abandoned cannibalism and took kindly to a 
corn diet.* Afterwards Osiris travelled over the world 


diffusing the blessings of civilisation wherever he went But 
on his return his brother Set (whom the Greeks called 
Typhon) with seventy-two others plotted against him. 
Having taken the measure of his good brother's body by 
stealth, the bad brother Typhon fashioned a beautiful and 
highly decorated coffer of the same size, and once when 

^ XenophoD, HeUenica^ iv. 5. 7-17 ; 
Pausanias, iii. 10. I. 

- The myth, in a connected form, is 
only known from Plutarch, Isis et 
Osiris, 13-19. Some additional de- 
tails, recovered from Egyptian sources, 
will be found in the work of Adolf 
Erman, Aegypten und atgyptisckes Leben 
im Altertum, p. 365 x^f. Compare A. 
Wiedemann, Die Religion der alten 

Aegypter, p. 112 sqq. ; G. Maspero, 
I/istoire ancienne des peuples de V Orient 
(lassique : les engines, p. 172 sqq. 

' Le Page Renouf, Hibbert Lectures, 
iS79« P* no ; Brugsch, Religion und 
Mythologie der alten Aegypter, p. 
614 ; Ad. Erman, /.r. ; Ed. Meyer, 
Gcsihifhte des Altertums, i. § 56 sq. 

** Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, 13; Dio- 
dorus, i. 14 ; TibuUus, i. 7. 2gsqq, 




they were all drinking and making merry he brought in the 
coffer and promised jestingly to give it to the one whom it 
should fit exactly. Well, they all tried one after the other, 
but it fitted none of them. Last of all Osiris stepped into it 
and lay down. On that the conspirators ran and slammed the 
lid down on him, nailed it fast, soldered it with molten lead, 
and flung the coffer into the Nile. This happened on the 
seventeenth day of the month Athyr, when the sun is in the 
sign of the Scorpion, and in the eight-and-twentieth year of 
the reign or the life of Osiris. When Isis heard of it she 
sheared off one of the locks of her hair, put on mourning 
attire and wandered disconsolately up and down, seeking the 
body. Meantime the coffer had floated down the river 
and away out to sea, till at last it drifted ashore at Byblus 
on the coast of Syria. Here a fine erica-tree shot up 
suddenly and enclosed the chest in its trunk. The king of 
the country, admiring the growth of the tree, had it cut down 
and made into a pillar of his house ; but he did not know 
that the coffer with the dead Osiris was in it. Word of 
this came to Isis and she journeyed to Byblus, and sat down 
by the well, in humble guise, her face wet with tears. To 
none would she speak till the king's handmaidens came, and 
them she greeted kindly and braided their hair and breathed 
on them from her own divine body a wondrous perfume. 
But when the queen beheld the braids of her handmaidens' 
hair and smelt the sweet smell that emanated from them, she 
sent for the stranger woman and took her into her house and 
made her the nurse of her child. But Isis gave the babe her 
finger instead of her breast to suck, and at night she began 
to bum all that was mortal of him away, while she herself 
in the likeness of a swallow fluttered round the pillar that 
contained her dead brother, twittering mournfully. But the 
queen spied what she was doing and shrieked out when she 
saw her child in flames, and thereby she hindered him from 
becoming immortal. Then the goddess revealed herself and 
begged for the pillar of the roof, and they gave it her, 
and she cut the coffer out of it, and fell upon it and em- 
braced it and lamented so loud that the younger of the king's 
children died of fright on the spot. But the trunk of the tree 
she wrapped in fine linen and poured ointment on it and gave it 


to the king and queen, and the wood stands in a temple of 
Isis and is worshipped by the people of Byblus to this day. 
And Isis put the coffer in a boat and took the eldest of 
the king's children with her and sailed away. As soon as 
they were alone, she opened the chest, and laying her face 
on the face of her brother she kissed him and wept. But the 
child came behind her softly and saw what she was about, 
and she turned and looked at him in anger, and the child 
could not bear her look and died ; but some say that it was 
not so, but that he fell into the sea and was drowned. It 
is he whom the Egyptians sing of at their banquets under 
the name of Maneros. But Isis put the coffer by and went 
to see her son Horus at Butus, and Typhon found it as he 
was hunting a boar one night by the light of a full moon.^ 
And he knew the body, and rent it into fourteen pieces, and 
scattered them abroad. But Isis sailed up and down the 
marshes in a shallop made of papyrus, looking for the pieces ; 
and that is why when people sail in shallops made of 
papyrus, the crocodiles do not hurt them, for they fear or 
respect the goddess. And that is the reason, too, why there 
are many graves of Osiris in Egypt, for she buried each limb as 
she found it. But others will have it that she buried an image 
of him in every city pretending it was his body, in order that 
Osiris might be worshipped in many places, and that if Typhon 
searched for the real grave he might not be able to find 
it. However, one of the members of Osiris had been eaten 
by the fishes, so Isis made an image of it instead, and the 
image is used by the Egyptians at their festivals to this day. 
Such is the myth of Osiris as told by Plutarch. A long 
inscription in the temple at Denderah has preserved a list of 
the graves of Osiris, and other texts mention the parts of 
his body which were treasured as holy relics in each of the 
sanctuaries. Thus his heart was at Athribis, his neck at 
Letopolis, and his head at Memphis. As often happens in 
such cases, some of his divine limbs were miraculously 
multiplied. His head, for instance, was at Abydos as well 
as at Memphis, and his legs, which were remarkably numer- 
ous, would have sufficed for several ordinary mortals.* 

* Plntarch, Isis ct Osiris, 8, 18. 
* A. Wiedemann, Die Heiijs^ft tier alt en Aef^pter, p. 115. 




Of the annual rites with which his death and burial were 
celebrated in the month Athyr ^ we unfortunately know very 
little. The mourning lasted five days,^ from the eighth to the 
twelfth of the month Athyr.* The ceremonies began with the 
"earth-ploughing," that is, with the opening of the field 
labours, when the waters of the Nile are sinking. The other 
rites included the search for the mangled body of Osiris, the 
rejoicings at its discovery, and its solemn burial. The burial 
took place on the eleventh of November, and was accom- 
panied by the recitation of laments from the liturgical books. 
These laments, of which several copies have been discovered 
in modern times, were put in the mouth of Isis and Nephthys, 
sisters of Osiris. " In form and substance," says Brugsch, 
" they vividly recall the dirges chanted at the Adonis' rites 
over the dead god." * Next day was the joyous festival of 
Sokari, that being the name under which the hawk -headed 
Osiris of Memphis was invoked. The solemn processions 
of priests which on this day wound round the temples with 
all the pomp of banners, images, and sacred emblems, were 
amongst the most stately pageants that ancient Egypt could 
show. The whole festival ended on the sixteenth of November 
with a special rite called the erection of the Tatu^ Tat, or 


! \ 

^ Most Egyptian texts place the 
death of the god and the mourning for 
him at the end of the month Choiak, 
about the time of the winter solstice, 
when the days are shortest ; and of the 
ceremony which represented hb death 
and resurrection at this time we possess 
a full and detailed account in the 
inscription at Denderah. But appa- 
rently this transference of the date is 
due to a later identification of Osiris 
with the sun. See A. Wiedemann, 
Die Religion der aiten Aegyptier^ pp. 
Ii2jy., 115. According to Pausanias 
(x. 32. 18), Isb mourned for Osiris at 
the time that the Nile begins to rise, 
and the Egyptians attributed the rise 
of the water to the tears of the goddess. 

^ So Brugsch, op. Hi. p. 617. Plu- 
tarch, op. cit. 39, says four days begin- 
ning with the 17th of the month Athyr. 

^ In the Alexandrian year the month 
Athyr corresponded to November. 
But as the old Egyptian year was 

vague, that is, made no use of intercal- 
ation, the astronomical date of each 
festival varied from year to year, till it 
had passed through the whole cycle of 
the astronomical year. From the fact, 
therefore, that when the calendar be- 
came fixed, Athyr fell in November, 
no inference can be drawn as to the 
/late at which the death of Osiris was 
originally celebrated. It is thus per- 
fectly possible that it may have been 
originally a harvest festival, though the 
Eg}'ptian harvest falls, not in November, 
but in April. Compare Selden, De A'is 
Syn'Sf p. 335 s^. ; Parthey on Plutarch, 
Isis et Osiris^ 39. 

* Brugsch, I.e. For a specimen of 
these lamentations see Brugsch, op. cit. 
p. 631 sq. \ Records of the Past^ ii. 119 
sqq. For the annual ceremonies of 
finding and bur}'ing Osiris, see also 
Firmicus Matemus, De errore pro* 
fanantm rtligionum^ 2i § 3 » Servius 
on Virgil, Aen. iv. 609. 





Ded pillar.^ This pillar appears from the monuments to 
have been a column with cross bars at the top, like the 
yards of a mast, or more exactly like the superposed capitals 
of a pillar.* On a Theban tomb the king himself, assisted 
by his relations and a priest, is represented hauling at the 
ropes by which the pillar is being raised. The pillar was 
interpreted, at least in later Egyptian theology, as the back- 
bone of Osiris. It might very well be a conventional way 
of representing a tree stripped of its leaves ; and if Osiris 
was a tree-spirit, the bare trunk and branches of a tree might 
naturally be described as his backbone. The setting up of 
the column would thus, as Erman supposes, shadow forth 
the resurrection of the god, which, as we learn from Plutarch, 
appears to have been celebrated at his mysteries.* Perhaps 
a ceremony which, according to -Plutarch, took place on 
the third day of the festival (the nineteenth day of the 
month Athyr) may also have referred to the resurrection. 
He says that on that day the priests carried the sacred ark 
down to the sea. Within the ark was a golden casket, into 
which drinking-water was poured. A shout then went up 
that Osiris was found. Next the priests took some vegetable 
mould and having kneaded it with water into a paste they 
fashioned therewith a crescent -shaped figure, which they 
afterwards dressed in robes and adorned.* 

The general similarity of the myth and ritual of Osiris 
to those of Adonis and Attis is obvious. In all three cases 
we see a god whose untimely and violent death is mourned 
by a loving goddess and annually celebrated by his 
worshippers. The character of "Osiris as a deity of vege- 
tation is brought out by the legend that he was the first to 
teach men the use of corn, and by the custom of beginning 
his annual festival with the tillage of the ground. He is said 
also to have introduced the cultivation of the vine.* In one 

* Brugsch, Religiott tmd Mythoiogie 
der alt en Aefiypter^ p. 617 jy. ; Erman, 
Afgypten und aegyptisches Leben im 
Altertum^ p. 377 jy. 

2 Krman, l.c, ; Wilkinson, Manners 
attd Customs of the Ancient Egyptians 
(London, 1878), iii. 68, 82; Tide, 
History of the Egyptian Religion, p. 46 ; 

Maspero, Histoireaneiennedes peuf^esde 
r Orient classiqne : les origiftfs^ p. 1 30. 

* Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, 35 : o/to- 
Xoyfi hk Koi rd riravdcd koX y^ reXela 
rotf Xeyofidrois 'Ocipidot btacwaafuSs xal 
rats dva9(UMrf(rc xal waXiyytytciais, 
6/ioifat di Kal rd -rcpl rat raipds. 

* Plutarch, /sis et Osiris, 39. 

* TibuUus, L 7. 33 sqq. 


of the chambers dedicated to Osiris in the great temple of 
Isis at Philae the dead body of Osiris is represented with 
stalks of corn springing from it, and a priest is depicted 
watering the stalks from a pitcher which he holds in his i? 
hand. The accompanying legend sets forth that "this is ( 
the form of him whom one may not name, Osiris of the 
mysteries, who springs from the returning waters." * It 
would seem impossible to devise a more graphic way of 
depicting Osiris as a personification of the com ; while the 
inscription attached to the picture proves that this personi- 
fication was the kernel of the mysteries of the god, the 
innermost secret that was only revealed to the initiated. In 
estimating the mythical character of Osiris very great weight 
must be griven to this monument The story that his mangled 
remains were scattered up and down the land may be a 
mythical way of expressing either the sowing or the winnow- 
ing of the grain. The latter interpretation is supported by 
the tale that Isis placed the severed limbs of Osiris on a 
corn-sieve.* Or the l^end may be a reminiscence of the 
custom of slaying a human victim as a representative of the 
corn-spirit and distributing his flesh or scattering his ashes 
over the fields to fertilise them. We have already seen that 
in modem Europe the figure of Death is sometimes torn 
in pieces, and that the fragments are then buried in the 
fields to make the crops grow well.' Later on we shall meet 
with examples of human victims treated in the same way. 
With regard to the ancient Egyptians, we have it on the 
authority of Manetho that they used to bum red-haired men 
and scatter their ashes with winnowing-fans.* This custom 
was not, as might perhaps be supposed, a mere way of 
wreaking their spite on foreig^ners, amongst whom red hair 
would probably be commoner than amongst the native 
Egyptians ; for the oxen which were sacrificed had also to 
be red, a single black or white hair found on a beast would 
have disqualified it for the sacrifice.* The red hair of the 
human victims was thus probably essential ; the circumstance 

* Bnigsch, Religion uitd Alythohgie * Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, 73, cp. 
tUr aJten Aegypter^ p. 621. 33 ; Diodorus, i. %%. 

* Servius on Virgil, Gcorg. i. 166. * Plutarch, op, cit, 31 ; Herodotus, 
' Above, p. 95. ii. 38. 




that they were generally foreigners may have been only 
accidental. If, as I conjecture, these human sacrifices were 
intended to promote the growth of the crops — and the 
winnowing of their ashes seems to support this view — red- 
haired victims were perhaps selected as best fitted to 
personate the spirit of the golden grain. For when a god is 
represented by a living person, it is natural that the human 
representative should be chosen on the ground of his sup- 
posed resemblance to the god. Hence the ancient Mexicans, 
conceiving the maize as a personal being who went through 
the whole course of life between seed-time and harvest, sacri- 
ficed new-born babes when the maize was sown, older 
children when it had sprouted, and so on till it was fully 
ripe, when they sacrificed old men.^ A name for Osiris was 
the " crop " or " harvest " ; * and the ancients sometimes 
explained him as a personification of the com.' 

But Osiris was more than a spirit of the com ; he was 
also a tree-spirit, and this may well have been his original 
character, since the worship of trees is naturally older in the 
history of religion than the worship of the cereals. His 
character as a tree-spirit was represented very graphically in 
a ceremony described by Firmicus Maternus.* A pine-tree 
having been cut down, the centre was hollowed out, and with 
the wood thus excavated an image of Osiris was made, which 

* Herrera, quoted by Bastian, Cul- 
turliimier des aUett Amerika^ ii. 639 ; 
jV., General History of the vast Con- 
tinent and Islands of America^ ii. 379 
j^., trans, by Stevens (whose version of 
the passage is inadequate). Compare 
Brasseur de Bourbourg, Histoire des 
Nations civilisies du Mexiqtu et de 
VAmirique-Centrale^ L 327, iii. 535. 
For more instances of the assimilation 
of the human victim to the corn, see 
below, pp. 247 j^., 255. 

« Lef(6bure, Le my the Osirien (Paris, 
1874-75), p. iSS. 

' Firmicus Matemus, De errore 
profanarum relif^nwii^ 2, § 6 : **<fe- 
fensores eorum volurtt addere physicam 
ratioitem^ fnigum senn'na Osirim di- 
centes esse; Isim terram^ Tyfonem 
calorem : et ^uia matttratae fmges 
colore ad xntam hominum eolligiintur 

it divisae a terrae consortia separantur 
etrursnsadpropinquante hieme seminan- 
tur^ hone volunt esse mortem Osiridis, 
cum fmges recondunt^ itwentionem vera, 
cum fruges genitali terrae fomento 
conceptae annua rursus coeperint pro^ 
creaiionegenerari,** Eusebius, /Vitur/ar. 
Evang, iii. II, 31 : 6 3^ 'Ooipvi wop* 
Alyvwrloit Hfp Kdfnrifu» vaploniai 
SOi^afUP, i^ Bpi/poii dwofieiKloaoirrai c/t 
yrjp d^eun^ofUnff hf t^ ^^^p*fi, koI ^' 
ll/iMf KaraPoKiOKOfiirriv th rdf rpo^t, 
Athenagoras, Supplicatio pro Chris- 
tianis, 22, pp. II 2, II 4, ed. Otto: rd 9i 
<rroix<<A Kal rd fiSpta airriai' $€owoioGoiP, 
dXXorc AXXa dfdfiara cudroit Tt$4fiepoi, 
T^r flip ToO oItov awofiiiP 'OoipiP (8$€P 
^aolp fivoTiK&s iwl rj dp(vp4o€t r&p 
fitXQp ^ tQp KapfwUp (ircXex^i^ai rp 
JaiSr lSlvp/^Kafi€pf ovyxoipofi€P !). 
* Op, cit. 27, § I. 




was then " buried " in the hollow of the tree. Here, again, it 
is hard to imagine how the conception of a tree as tenanted 
by a personal being could be more plainly expressed. The 
image of Osiris thus made was kept for a year and then 
burned, exactly as was done with the image of Attis which 
was attached to the pine-tree. The ceremony of cutting the 
tree, as described by Firmicus Matemus, appears to be 
alluded to by Plutarch.^ It was probably the ritual counter- 
part of the mythical discovery of the body of Osiris enclosed 
in the erica-tree. We may conjecture that the erection of 
the Tatu pillar at the close of the annual festival of Osiris * 
was identical with the ceremony described by Firmicus ; it 
is to be noted that in the myth the erica-tree formed a pillar 
in the kingfs house. Like the similar custom of cutting a 
pine-tree and fastening an image to it in the rites of Attis, 
the ceremony perhaps belonged to that class of customs of 
which the bringing in the May-pole is among the most 
familiar. As to the pine-tree in particular, at Denderah the 
tree of Osiris is a conifer, and the cofTer containing the 
body of Osiris is here depicted as enclosed within the tree.' 
A pine-cone often appears on the monuments as an offering 
presented to Osiris, and a manuscript of the Louvre speaks 
of the cedar as sprung from him.* The sycamore and the 
tamarisk are also his trees. In inscriptions he is spoken of 
as residing in them ; ^ and his mother Nut is frequently 
portrayed in a sycamore.* In a sepulchre at How (Diospolis 
Parva) a tamarisk is depicted overshadowing the coffer of 
Osiris ; and in the series of sculptures which illustrate the 
mystic history of Osiris in the great temple of Isis at Philae, 
a tamarisk is figured with two men pouring water on it. 
The inscription on this last monument leaves no doubt, says 
Brugsch, that the verdure of the earth was believed to be 
connected with the verdure of the tree, and that the sculpture 

1 Isis it Osiris ^ 31, vdwd di rofiiip 
(iSiKov Kol rxiff^^ \ivcv kqX xo&f x^^f^^^^^t 
3«d r6 iroXXd tQp fiwrriKtap dtfOfUfuxBai 
rodrocT. Again, iM. 42, rb 6i ^6\otf iv 
ToTt \€yopjivai% *0clpi6ot ra^cuT rifufwrtt 
KaracKevd^owrt Xdpraira /ii/roei^^. 

* See above, p. 140 sg, 

^ Lefebure, Li tnythe Osinen, pp. 

194, 198, referring to Mariette, Den" 
derah^ iv. 66 and 72. 

* Lefebure, op. fit, pp. 195, 197. 

^ Birch, in Wilkinson's Manners and 
Customs of the Aneient Egyptians 
(London, 1878), iii. 84. 

® Wilkinson, op, cit, iii. 63 s^. ; Ed. 
Meyer, Geschichte des Alterthnms^ i. §§ 
56, 60. 





refers to the grave of Osiris at Philae, of which Plutarch tells us 
that it was overshadowed by a methide plant, taller than any 
olive-tree. This sculpture, it may be observed, occurs in the 
same chamber in which the god is depicted as a corpse with 
ears of com sprouting from him.^ In inscriptions he is 
referred to as " the one in the tree," " the solitary one in the 
acacia," and so forth.^ On the monuments he sometimes 
appears as a mummy covered with a tree or with plants.' It 
accords with the character of Osiris as a tree-spirit that his 
worshippers were forbidden to injure fruit-trees, and with his 
character as a god of vegetation in general that they were 
not allowed to stop up wells of water, which are so important 
for the irrigation of hot southern lands/ 

The original meaning of the goddess Isis is still more 
difficult to determine than that of her brother and husband 
Osiris. Her attributes and epithets were so numerous that 
in the hieroglyphics she is called " the many-named," ** the 
thousand-named," and in Greek inscriptions "the myriad- 
named." * Professor Tiele confesses candidly that " it is 
now impossible to tell precisely to what natural phenomena 
the character of Isis at first referred." * There are at least 
some grounds for seeing in her a goddess of com. If we may 
trust Diodorus, whose authority appears to have been the 
Egyptian historian Manetho, the discovery of wheat and 
barley was attributed to Isis, and at her festivals stalks of 
these grains were carried in procession to commemorate the 
boon she had conferred on men. Further, at harvest-time, 
when the Egyptian reapers had cut the first stalks, they laid 
them down and beat their breasts, lamenting and calling 

^ Wilkinson, op. cit, iiL 549 sq, ; 
Brugsch, Religion und Atyiholi^e der 
alien Aegypter^ p. 621 ; Plutarch, Isis 
et Osiris^ 20. In this passage of Plut- 
arch it has been proposed hy Parthey 
to read fivplicrft for fiifBldrit, and the 
conjecture appears to be accepted by 
Wilkinson, Uc, cit, 

^ Lef^bure, Lemythe Osirien^^, 191. 

' Lefebure, op, cit, p. 188. 

* Plutarch, Isis et Osiris^ 35. One 
of the points in which the myths of 
Isis and Demeter agree, is that both 
goddesses in their .search for the loved 


and lost one are said to have sat down, 
sad at heart and weary, on the edge of 
a well. Hence those who had been 
initiated at Eleusis were forbidden to 
sit on a well. See Plntarch, Isis tt 
Osiris^ 15; Homer, Hymn toDemeUr^ 
gSsq, ; I'ausanias, i. 39. i ; Apollodoms, 
i. 5. I ; Nicander, TTUriata, 486 ; 
Clemens Alex., Proirept, ii. 2a 

& Brugsch, Religion und Mytkoiogie 
der alien Aegypter^ p. 645. 

• C. P. Tiele, History of Egyptian 
Religion, p. 57. 


146 /S/S A CORN-GODDESS chap. 

upon Isis.^ Amongst the epithets by which she is desig- 
nated in the inscriptions are " creatress of the green crop," 
" the green one, whose greenness is like the greenness of the 
earth," and " mistress of bread." * According to Brugsch 
she is " not only the creatress of the fresh verdure of 
v^etation which covers the earth, but is actually the g^een 
corn-field itself, which is personified as a goddess." * This 
is confirmed by her epithet Sochit or Socket^ meaning " a 
corn-field " a sense which the word still retains in Coptic* 
It is in this character of a corn-goddess that the Greeks 
conceived Isis, for they identified her with Demeter.* In a 
Greek epigram she is described as **she who has given 
birth to the fruits of the earth," and "the mother of the 
cars of com," • and in a hymn composed in her honour she 
speaks of herself as "queen of the wheat-field," and is 
described as " charged with the care of the fruitful furrow's 
wheat-rich path."^ 

Osiris has been sometimes interpreted as the sun-god ; 
and in modem times this view has been held by so many 
distinguished writers that it deserves a brief examination. 
If we inquire on ,what evidence Osiris has been identified 
with the sun or the sun-god, it will be found on analysis 
to be minute in quantity and dubious, where it is not 
absolutely worthless, in quality. The diligent Jablonski, the 
first modern scholar to collect and* sift the testimony of 
classical writers on Egyptian religion, says that it can "be 
shown in many ways that Osiris is the sun, and that he 
could produce a cloud of witnesses to prove it, but that it is 
needless to do so, since no learned man is ignorant of the 
fact.^ Of the writers whom he condescends to quote, the 
only two who expressly identify Osiris with the sun are 
Diodorus and Macrobius. The passage in Diodorus runs 

* Diodorus, L 14. Eusebius {Prat- * Brugsch, op, at, p. 649. 

parat, Evant^. iii. 3) quotes from ^ Brugsch, Lc, 

Diodorus (i. 11 -13) a long passage on & Herodotus, ii. 59, 156; Dio- 

ihe early religion of Egypt, prefacing dorus, i. 13, 25, 96 ; Apollodorus, ii. 

the quotation (di. 2) with the remark i. 3 ; Tzetres, SchoL oh Lycothron. 

ypd^i di fftti rd w€pi toutum' vXarvnpw 212. 

fUtf 6 'Mopidcjtf iw€T€TfiyiiU9tat bi 6 * Aft/hoioj;;^. Pianud. cclxiv. i. 

Ac^dwpof, which seems to imply that ' Orphica^ ed. Abel, p. 295 sqq. 

Diodorus epitomised Manetho. • Jablonski, Patttheon Aegyptiorum 

*•* Brugsch, op, lit. p. 647. (Frankfort, 1750), i. 125 sq. 


thus : * " It is said that the aboriginal inhabitants of Egypt, 
looking up to the sky, and smitten with awe and wonder at 
the nature of the universe, supposed that there were two 
gods, eternal and primeval, the sun and the moon, of whom 
they named the sun Osiris and the moon Isis." Even if 
Diodorus's authority for this statement is Manetho, as there 
is some ground for believing,^ little or no weight can be 
attached to it For it is plainly a philosophical, and there- 
fore a late, explanation of the first beginnings of Egyptian 
religion, reminding us of Kant's familiar saying about 
the starry heavens and the moral law rather than of the 
rude traditions of a primitive people. Jablonski's second 
authority, Macrobius, is no better but rather worse. For 
Macrobius was the father of that large family of mytho- 
logists who resolve all or most gods into the sun. Accord- 
ing to him Mercury was the sun. Mars was the] sun, Janus 
was the sun, Saturn was the sun, so was Jupiter, also 
Nemesis, likewise Pan, and so on through a great part of 
the pantheon.* It was natural, therefore, that he should 
identify Osiris with the sun,^ but his reasons for doing so 
are exceedingly slight. He refers to the ceremonies of 
alternate lamentation and joy as if they reflected the 
vicissitudes of the great luminary in his course through the 
sky. Further, he argues that Osiris must be the sun 
because an eye was one of his symbols. The premise is 
correct,* but what exactly it has to do with the conclusion 
is not clear. The opinion that Osiris was the sun is also 
mentioned, but not accepted, by Plutarch,^ and it is referred 
to by Firmicus Maternus." 

Amongst modern scholars, Lepsius, in identifying Osiris 
with the sun, appears to rely mainly on the passage of 
Diodorus already quoted. But the monuments, he adds, 
also show '* that down to a late time Osiris was sometimes 
conceived as Ra. In this quality he is named Osiris-Ra 
even in the * Book of the Dead,* and Isis is often called * the 
royal consort of Ra.* " * That Ra was both the physjpal sun 

* HibI, Hist, i. II. of ///« An.icnf Ei^'ptiatis (London, 

- Sec p. 146, note 1. 1S7S), iii. 353. 

•* Sec Macrobius, Saturttalia^ bk. i. ^ his it Osiris^ 52. 

■• So/ urn, i. 21. II. " Dc trrorc pro/an. reii^otium, 8. 

^ Wilkinson, Manners and Customs ^ Lcj-sius, ♦* Ucber den er:»ten 




and the sun-god is undisputed ; but with every deference 
for the authority of so great a scholar as Lepsius, it may 
be doubted whether the identification of Osiris with Ra 
can be accepted as proof that Osiris was originally the sun. 
For the religion of ancient Egypt ^ may be . described as 
a confederacy of local cults which, while maintaining against 
each other a certain measure of jealous and even hostile 
independence, were yet constantly subjected to the fusing 
and amalgamating influence of political centralisation and 
philosophic thought The history of the religion appears 
to have largely consisted of a struggle between these 
opposite forces or tendencies. On the one side there was 
the conservative tendency to preserve the local cults with all 
their distinctive features, fresh, sharp, and crisp as they had 
been handed down from an immemorial past. On the other 
side there was the progressive tendency, favoured by the 
gradual fusion of the people under a powerful central 
government, first to dull the edge of these provincial dis- 
tinctions, and finally to break them down completely and 
merge them in a single national religion. The conservative 
party probably mustered in its ranks the great bulk of the 
people, their prejudices and affections being warmly enlisted 
in favour of the local deity, with whose temple and rites 
they had been familiar from childhood ; and the popular 
dislike of change, based on the endearing effect of old 
association, must have been strongly reinforced by the less 
disinterested opposition of the local clergy, whose material 
interests would necessarily suffer with any decay of their 
shrines. On the other hand the kings, whose power and 
glory rose with the political and ecclesiastical consolidation 
of the realm, were the natural champions of religious unity ; 
and their efforts would be seconded by the refined and 
thoughtful minority, who could hardly fail to be shocked by 
the many barbarous and revolting elements in the local 
rites. As usually happens in such cases, the process of 
religious unification appears to have been lai^ely effected 

aegyptischen Gotterkreis und seine ^ The view here taken of the history 

geschichtlich - mythologische Entste- of Egyptian religion is based on the 

hung," in Abhandlungen tUr konig- sketch in Ad. Erman*s Aegypten und 

lichen Akademie der lllssensehaften tu aegyptisches Leben im AUerium, p. 35 1 

Berlin, 185 1, p. 194 i^- sqq. 


by discovering points of similarity, real or imaginary, between 
various local gods, which were thereupon declared to be 
only different names or manifestations of the same god. 

Of the deities who thus acted as centres of attraction, 
absorbing in themselves a multitude of minor divinities, by 
far the most important was the sun-god Ra, There appear 
to have been few gods in Egypt who were not at one time 
or other identified with him. Ammon of Thebes, Horus of 
the East, Horus of Edfu, Chnum of Elephantine, Atum of 
Heliopolis, all were regarded as one god, the sun. Even 
the water-god Sobk, in spite of his crocodile shape, did not 
escape the same fate. Indeed one king, Amenophis IV., 
undertook to sweep away all the old gods at a stroke and 
replace them by a single god, the " g^eat living disc of the 
sun." * In the hymns composed in his honour, this deity is 
referred to as " the living disc of the sun, besides whom there 
is none other." He is said to have made " the far heaven " 
and " men, beasts, and birds ; he strengftheneth the eyes 
with his beams, and when he showeth himself, all flowers 
live and grow, the meadows flourish at his upgoing and 
are drunken at his sight, all cattle skip on their feet, 
and the birds that are in the marsh flutter for joy." It is 
he " who bringeth the years, createth the months, maketh 
the days, calculateth the hours, the lord of time, by whom 
men reckon." In his zeal for the unity of god, the king 
commanded to erase the names of all other gods from the 
monuments, and to destroy their images. His rage was 
particularly directed against the god Ammon, whose name 
and likeness were effaced wherever they were found ; even 
the sanctity of the tomb was violated in order to destroy 
the memorials of the hated deity. In some of the halls of 
the great temples at Carnac, Luxor, and other places, all the 
names of the gods, with a few chance exceptions, were 
scratched out. In no inscription cut in this king's reign was 
any god mentioned save the sun. The monarch even changed 
his own name, Amenophis, because it was compounded of 

^ On this attempted revolution in der alten Aegyptier^ pp. 20-22. The 

religion see Lepsius in Verhandl, d. tomb and mummy of the heretic king 

konigl, Akad. d. IVisseusch, zu Berlin^ were found at Tell-el-Amarna in 1 890. 

1 85 1, pp. 196-201; Erman, op, cit. Sec A.. 11. Szycc, in A fM^ncatt/ourfial 

p. 3SSsi/i/, ; Wiedemann, Die Reliiiion of Archaeohjt^y vi. (1890), p. 163. 

1 50 OSIRIS AND THE SUN chap. f 

Ammon, and took instead the name of Chuen-'eten, " gleam 
of the sun's disc." His death was followed by a violent 
reaction. The old gods were reinstated in their rank and 
privileges ; their names and images were restored ; and new 
temples were built. But all the shrines and palaces reared 
by the late king were thrown down ; even the sculptures 
that referred to him and to his god in rock-tombs and on 
the sides of hills were erased or filled up with stucco ; his 
name appears on no later monument, and was carefully 
omitted from all official lists. 

This attempt of King Amenophis IV. is only an ex- 
treme example of a tendency which appears to have been 
at work on the religion of Egypt as far back as we can 
trace it Therefore, to come back to our point, in attempt- 
ing to discover the original character of any Egyptian god, 
no weight can be given to the identification of him with 
other gods, least of all with the sun-god Ra. Far from 
helping to follow up the trail, these identifications only cross 
and confuse it. The best evidence for the original character 
of the Egyptian gods is to be found in their ritual and 
myths, so far as these are known, and in the manner in 
which they are portrayed on the monuments. It is mainly 
on evidence drawn from these sources that I rest my 
interpretation of Osiris as a deity of the fruits of the earth. 

The ground upon which some recent writers seem chiefly 
to rely for the identification of Osiris with the sun is that 
the story of his death fits better with the solar phenomena 
than with any other in nature. It may readily be admitted 
that the daily appearance and disappearance of the sun 
might very naturally be expressed by a myth of his death 
and resurrection ; and writers who regard Osiris as the sun 
are careful to indicate that it is the diurnal, and not the 
annual, course of the sun to which they understand the 
myth to apply. Thus Renouf, who identified Osiris with 
the sun, admitted that the Egyptian sun could not with any 
show of reason be described as dead in winter.^ But if his 
daily death was the theme of the legend, why was it celebrated 
by an annual ceremony ? This fact alone seems fatal to the 

* Hibbert I^tfutvs^ 1S79, p. 1 13. Compare Ed. Meyer, Ctschuhtc des 
AlUrthums, i. §§ 55, 57. 


interpretation of the myth as descriptive of sunset and sunrise. 
Again, though the sun may be said to die daily, in what 
sense can he be said to be torn in pieces ? ^ 

In the course of our inquiry, it has, I trust, been made 
clear that there is another natural phenomenon to which the 
conception of death and resurrection is as applicable as to 
sunset and sunrise, and which, as a matter of fact, has been 
so conceived and represented in folk-custom. This pheno- 
menon is the annual growth and decay of vegetation. A 
strong reason for interpreting the death of Osiris as the 
fjecay of vegetation rather than as the sunset is to be found 
in the general, though not unanimous, voice of antiquity, 
which classed together the worship and myths of Osiris, 
Adonis, Attis, Dionysus, and Demeter, as religions of 
essentially the same t)rpe.^ The consensus of ancient 
opinion on this subject seems too great to be rejected as a 
mere fancy. So closely did the rites of Osiris resemble 
those of Adonis at Byblus that some of the people of 
Byblus themselves maintained that it was Osiris and not 
Adonis whose death was mourned by them.* Such a view 
could certainly not have been held if the rituals of the two 
gods had not been so alike as to be almost indistinguishable. 
Again, Herodotus found the similarity between the rites of 
Osiris and Dionysus so great, that he thought it impossible 
the latter could have arisen independently ; they must, he 
thought, have been recently borrowed, with slight alterations, 
by the Greeks from the Elgyptians.* Again, Plutarch, a very 

* I am pleased to observe that Pro- 156 ; Plutarch, his et Osiris^ 13, 35 ; 

fessor C. P. Tiele, who formerly inter- i<L^ Quaest, Coiiviv, iv. 5. 3 ; Dio- 

preted Osiris as a sun-god {History of dorus, i. 13, 25, 96, iv. i ; Orphica^ 

Egyptian Religion ^ p. 43 sqqJ)^ has Hymn 42 ; Eusebius, Prtupar, Evau}^. 

now adopted a view of his nature which iiL ii. 31 ; Servius on Virgil, Aetu xi. 

approaches more nearly to the one 287 ; f</., on Georg, i. 166 ; Hippoly- 

advocated in this book. See his tus, Refut, omn, haeres. v. 9, p. 168 : 

Gischiedenis v<ut den Codsdienst ut de Socrates, Ecctes. Hist, iii. 23, p. 204 ; 

Oudhcid^ i. 33 sq» (Amsterdam, 1893). Tzetzes, Schol, on Lycopkron^ 312 ; 

Professor Maspero has also abandoned Aiifyil^ra, xxil 2, in Mythograpki 

the theory that Osiris was the sun ; he Graeci^ ed. Westermann, p. 368 ; 

now supposes that the deity originally Nonnus, Dionys, iv. 269 j/. ; Comatus, 

personified the Nile. See his Histoire Dt neUura (Lorum, 28 ; Clemens 

anei^nw* (Paris, 1886), p. 35 ; and his A]exan<}r. Protrept, ii. 19 ; Firmicus 

Histoire ancienne des peup/es de r Orient Maternus, Dc crrorc profan. rclij:;, 7. 

dassiqui: les origi^us (Paris, 1895), 3 Lucian, De dea Syria, 7. 

p. 130. 

^ Herodotus, ii. 42, 49, 59, 144, ^ Herodotus, ii. 49. 


keen student of comparative religion, insists upon the 
detailed resemblance of the rites of Osiris to those of Diony- 
sus.^ We cannot reject the evidence of such intelligent and 
trustworthy witnesses on plain matters of fact which fell \ 
under their own cognisance. Their explanations of the 
worships it is indeed possible to reject, for the meaning of 
religious cults is often open to question ; but resemblances 
of ritual are matters of observation. Therefore, those who 
explain Osiris as the sun are driven to the alternative of 
either dismissing as mistaken the testimony of antiquity to 
the similarity of the rites of Osiris, Adonis, Attis, Dionysus, 
and Demeter, or of interpreting all these rites as sun-worship. 
No modem scholar has fairly faced and accepted either side 
of this alternative. To accept the former would be to affirm 
that we know the rites of these deities better than the men 
who practised, or at least who witnessed them. To accept 
the latter would involve a wrenching, clipping, mangling, and 
distorting of myth and ritual from which even Macrobius 
shrank.' On the other hand, the view that the essence of all 
these rites was the mimic death and revival of v^etation, 
explains them separately and collectively in an easy and 
natural way, and harmonises with the general testimony 
borne by antiquity to their substantial similarity. The 
evidence for thus explaining Adonis, Attis, and Osiris has 
now been laid before the reader ; it remains to do the same 
for Dionysus and Demeter. 

Before, however, we pass from Egyptian to Greek 
mythology it will be worth while to consider an ancient 
explanation of Osiris, which deserves more attention than it 
has received in modern times. We are told by Plutarch that 
among the philosophers who saw in the gods of Egypt per- 
sonifications of natural objects and forces, there were some 
who interpreted Osiris as the moon and his enemy Typhon 
as the sun, " because the moon, with her humid and generative 
light, is favourable to the propagation of animals and the 
growth of plants ; while the sun with his fierce fire scorches 
and bums up all growing things, renders the greater part of 

' Plutarch, I sis et Osiris, 35. bat he spared Demeter (Ceres), whom, 

^ Osiris, Attis, Adonis, and Dionysus howe\*er, he interpreted as the moon, 
were all resolred by him into the sun ; See the Saiuntalia^ bk. L 



the earth uninhabitable by reason of his blaze, and often 
overpowers the moon herself." ^ Whatever may be thought 
of the physical qualities here attributed to the moon, the 
arguments adduced by the ancients to prove the identity of 
Osiris with that luminary carry with them a weight which 
has at least not been lightened by the results of modern 
research. An examination of them and of other evidence 
pointing in the same direction will, perhaps, help to set the 
original character of the Egyptian deity in a clearer light 

1. Osiris was said to have lived or reig^ned twenty-eight 
years. This might fairly be taken as a vnythxcdX expression 
for a lunar month.* 

2. His body was reported to have been rent into fourteen 
pieces. This might be interpreted of the waning moon, 
which appears to lose a portion of itself on each of the fourteen 
days that make up the second half of a lunar month.* It is 
expressly said that his enemy Typhon found the body of 
Osiris at the full moon ; ^ thus the dismemberment of the 
god would begin with the waning of the moon. To primitive 
man it seems manifest that the waning moon is actually 
dwindling, and he naturally enough explains its diminution 
by supposing that the planet is being rent or broken in 
pieces or eaten away. The Klamath Indians of Oregon 
speak of the moon as "the one broken to pieces" with 
reference to its changing aspect ; they never apply such a 
term to the sun,^ whose apparent change of bulk at different 
seasons of the year is far too insignificant to attract the 
attention of the savage, or at least to be described by him in 
such forcible language. The Dacotas believe that when the 
moon is full, a great many little mice begin to nibble at one 
side of it and do not cease till they have eaten it all up, 
after which a new moon is bom and grows to maturity, only 
to share the fate of all its countless predecessors.* 

3. At the new moon of the month Phanemoth, which 
was the beginning of spring, the Egyptians celebrated what 
they called " the entry of Osiris into the moon," " 

' Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, 41. (Washington, 1 890), p. Ixxxix. 

- Ibid, 13, 42. • S. R. Riggs, Dakota Grammar, 

3 Ihid. 18, 42. * Ibid, 8. Texts, and Ethnography (^z^xii^on, 

* A. S. Gatschet, The Klamath 1893). p. 165. 

Indians of South - Western Oregon " riutarch, Isis et Osiris, 43. 


4. At the ceremony called "the burial of Osiris" the 
Egyptians made a crescent-shaped chest " because the moon, 
when it approaches the sun, assumes the form of a crescent 
and vanishes." ^ 

5. The bull Apis, held to be an image of the soul of 
Osiris,* u'as bom of a cow which was believed to have been 
impregnated, not in the vulgar way by a bull, but by a divine 
influence emanating from the moon.^ 

6. Once a year, at the full moon, pigs were sacrificed 
simultaneously to the moon and Osiris.* The relation of 
pigs to the god will 1)6 considered later on. 

7. In a hymn supposed to be addressed by Isis to Osiris, 
it is said that Thoth — 

Placeth thy soul in the bark Ma-at, 
In that name which is thine, of GOD MoON. 

And again : — 

Thou who comest to us as a child each months 
We do not cease to contemplate thee 
Thine emanation heightens the brilliancy 
Of the stars of Orion in the firmament, etc.^ 

Here then Osiris is identified with the moon in set terms^ 
If in the same hymn he is said to " illuminate us like Ra "" 
(the sun), this is obviously no reason for identifying him with 
the sun, but quite the contrary. For though the moon may 
reasonably be compared to the sun, neither the sun nor 
an}^hing else can reasonably be compared to itself. 

Now if Osiris was originally, as I suppose, a deity of 
vegetation, we can easily enough understand why in a later 
and more philosophic age he should come to be thus identified 
or confounded with the moon. For as soon as he begins to 
meditate upon the causes of things, the early philosopher is 
led by certain obvious, though fallacious, appearances to 
r^[ard the moon as the ultimate cause of the growth of 
plants. In the first place he associates its apparent growth 
and decay with the growth and decay of sublunary things, 

* Plutarch, Isis tt OsiHs^ 43. et Osiris, 8. 

- Ibiti. 20, 29. * /Records of the Past^ i. 1 21 jy. ; 

' Ibid, 43. Bnigsch, Religion und Afytkolo^e der 

* Herodotus, ii. 47 ; Plutarch, his altni -7<oyV<r, p. 629 sq. 




and imagines that in virtue of a secret sympathy the celestial 
phenomena really produce those terrestrial changes which in 
point of fact they merely resemble. Thus Pliny says that 
the moon may fairly be considered the planet of breath, 
" because it saturates the earth and by its approach fills 
bodies, while by its departure it empties them. Hence it 
is," he goes on, " that shellfish increase with the increase of 
the moon and that bloodless creatures especially feel breath 
at that time ; even the blood of men grows and diminishes 
with the light of the moon, and leaves and herbage also feel 
the same influence, since the lunar energy penetrates all 
things." ^ " There is no doubt," writes Macrobius, " that the 
moon is the author and framer of mortal bodies, so much so 
that some things expand or shrink as it waxes or wanes." ^ 
Again Aulus Gellius puts in the mouth of a friend the remark 
that "the same things which grow with the waxing, do 
dwindle with the waning moon," and he quotes from a 
commentary of Plutarch's on Hesiod a statement, that the 
onion is the only vegetable which violates this great law of 
nature by sprouting in the wane and withering in the increase 
of the moon.' Scottish Highlanders allege that in the 
increase of the moon everything has a tendency to grow or 
stick together.* 

From this supposed influence of the moon on the life of 
plants and animals, men in ancient and modem times have 
deduced a whole code of rules for the guidance of the 
husbandman, the shepherd, and others in the conduct of 
their affairs. Thus, an ancient writer on agriculture lays it 
down as a maxim, that whatever is to be sown should be 
sown while the moon is waxing, and that whatever is to be 
cut or gathered should be cut or gathered while it is waning.^ 
A modern treatise on superstition describes how the super- 

^ Pliny, Nat, Hist, ii. 221. 

' Macrobius, Commettt. in sounnum 
Scipionist i. II. 7. 

' Aulus Gellius, xx. 8. For the 
opinions of the ancients on this subject, 
see further, W. H. Roecher, UberStUtte 
und Verwaiidtes (Leipsic, 1890), p. 61 

^ John Ramsay of Ochtert3rre, Scot- 
laud and Scotsmen in the Eighteenth 

Century^ edited by A. AUardyce, ii. 


^ Palladius, De re rustica, i. 34. 8. 

Cp. id.^ i. 6. 12; Pliny, Nat, Hist, 

xviii. 321 : ** omnia quae caedtmtur^ 

carfiuntur^- tondattur innocentita de- 

crescentc litna quam erescente Jiunt,^^ 

Geopomctty i. 6. 8 : r»k% BcKifidi^wat 

firfSiw ^i9oi>^% rijt <rcXi^in;f dXXd av^- 




stitious man regulates all his conduct by the mcx)n : " What- 
ever he would have to grow, he sets about it when she is in 
her increase ; but for what he would have less he chooses 
her wane."^ In Germany the phases of the moon are 
observed by superstitious people at all the more or even less 
important actions of life, such as tilling the fields, building 
or changing houses, marriages, hair-cutting, bleeding, cupping, 
and so forth. The particular rules vary in different places, 
but the principle generally followed is that whatever is done 
to increase anything should be done while the moon is 
waxing ; whatever is done to diminish anything should be 
done while the moon is waning. For example, sowing, 
planting, and grafting should be done in the first half 
of the moon, but the felling of timber and mowing should 
be done in the second half.' In various parts of Europe it 
is believed that plants, nails, hair, and corns, cut while the 
moon is on the increase will g^ow again fast, but that if cut 
while it is on the decrease they will grow slowly or waste 
away.' Hence persons who wish their hair to grow thick 
and long should cut it in the first half of the moon ; ^ those 
who wish to be spared the trouble of cutting it often should 

^ Brand, Popular Antiquities^ iii. 
144, quoting Werenfels, Dissertation 
upon Superstition (London, 1748), p. 6. 

< Wuttke, Der deutsche VotJ^saUr- 
glaube^ § 65. Cp. Grimm, Deutsche 
Mythologies^ ii. 595 ; Montanus, Die 
deutsche Volksfeste^ Volksbrauche und 
deutscher Volksglauhes p. 128; Prae- 
torius, Dtliciae Prussicae, p. 18; Am 
Urqucll^ V. (1 894), p. 173. The rule 
that the grafting of trees should be 
done at the waxing of the moon is laid 
down by Pliny {Nat. Hist. xvii. 108). 
At Deutsch-S^pling in Transylvania, 
by an inversion of the usual custom, 
seed is generally sown at the waning of 
the moon (A. Heinrich, Agrarische 
Silt en und Gebrauche unter den Sachsen 
Siebenbiirgens^ p. 7). In the Abruzzi 
also sowing and grafting are commonly 
done when the moon is on the wane ; 
timber that b to be durable must be 
cut in January during the moon's de- 
crease (G. Finamore, Credatze, Usi e 
Cost Mini Abntzzesif p. 43). 

' S^billot, Traditions et Superstitions 

de la HatUe-Bretagne^ ii. 355 ; Sauv^, 
Folk-lore des Hautes- Vosgts, p. 5 ; 
Brand, Popular Antiquities^ iii. 150 ; 
Holzmayer, " Osiliana," Verhcmd- 
lungen der gelehrten Estnieheti Gesell- 
schaft zu Dorpat^ vii. (1872), p. 47. 

^ The rule is mentioned by Varro, 
Rerum Rusticarttm, L 37 (where we 
should probably read ** ne decrescente 
tondens cah^sjiam" and refer istaec to 
the former member of the preceding 
sentence) ; Montanus, op. cit. p. 128 ; 
S^billot, I.e. ; £. Meier, Deutsche Sagtn, 
Sitten und Gebrauche aus Schwabe^i^ p. 
51 1, § 421 ; Tettau und Temme, yblhs- 
sagen Ostpreussefu, Litthauens und 
iVestpreussens, p. 283 ; A. Kuhn, 
Marhische Sagen und Mdrchen^ p. 386, 
§ 92 ; L. Schandein, in Bavaria^ 
LandeS' und I 'olkskunde des Kbnigreichs 
Bayem^ iv. 2, p. 402 ; F. S. Krauss, 
Volksglaube und religioser Branch der 
SUdslaven^ p. 1 5. The reason assigned 
in the text was probably the original 
one in all cases, though it is not always 
the one alleged now. 




cut it in the second half.^ On the same principle sheep are 
shorn when the moon is waxing, because it is supposed that 
the wool will then be longest and most enduring.^ The 
Highlanders of Scotland used to expect better crops of grain 
by sowing their seed in the moon's increase.' But in this 
matter of sowing and planting a refined distinction is some- 
times drawn by French, German, and Esthonian peasants ; 
plants which bear fruit above ground are sown by them 
when the moon is waxing, but plants which are cultivated 
for the sake of their roots, such as potatoes and turnips, are 
sown when the moon is waning.* The reason for this dis- 
tinction seems to be a vague idea that the waxing moon 
is coming up and the waning moon going down, and that 
accordingly fruits which grow upwards should be sown in 
the former period, and fruits which grow downwards in the 
latter. Before beginning to plant their cacao the Pipiles of 
Central America exposed the finest seeds for four nights to 
the moonlight,* but whether they did so at the waxing or 
waning of the moon is not said. 

Again, the waning of the moon has been commonly 
recommended both in ancient and modern times as the 
proper time for felling trees,* apparently because it was 

278 ; Holzmayer, op. cit, p. 47. 

^ Bancroft, Native Races of the 
Pacific States, ii. 719 sq. 

• Cato, De agri cu/tura, 37. 4 ; 
Varro, Rerum RusticaruM, i. 37 ; 
Pliny, Nai. Hist, xvi. 190; Palladius, 
Dere rustica, ii. 22, xii. 15 ; Plutarch, 
Qtioest. Coftvtv, iii. 10. 3 ; Macrobius, 
Saium. vii. 16 ; Wuttke, /.r. ; Bavaria^ 
Landes- und Voikskunde des Konigreicks 
Bayentf iv. 2, p. 402 ; W. Kolbe, 
Hessische Volks-Sitten und Gebraitche^ 
p. 58 ; Sauvc, Folk-lore des Hautes* 
^"fsgeSf p. 5 ; Martin, ** Description 
of the Western Islands of Scotland," 
in Pinkerton's Voyages attd Travels^ 
iii. 630. Pliny, while he says that 
the period from the twentieth to the 
thirtieth day of the lunar month was 
the season generally recommended, adds 
that the best time of all, according to 
universal opinion, was the interlunar 
day, between the old and the new moon, 
when the planet is invisible through 
being in conjunction with the sun. 

1 The rule is mentioned by Wuttke 
and Sauv^, ILec, The reason assigned 
in the text is conjectural. 

' Krauss, op, cit, p. 16 ; Montanus, 
Ix. ; Varro, Rerum RusticarutN, i. 37 
(see above, p. 156, note 4). However, 
the opposite rule is observed in the 
Upper Vosges, where it is thought that 
if the sheep are shorn at the new moon 
the quantity of wool will be much less 
than if they were shorn in the waning of 
the moon (Sauve, l,c,). In Normandy, 
also, wool is clipped during the waning 
of the moon ; otherwise moths would 
get into it (Lecceur, Esquisses du 
Socage Normandy ii. 12). 

' S. l^tiii'Mti, Journey to the Western 
Islands of Scotland (Baltimore, 1 8 10), 

p. 183. 

* Wuttke, Der deutsche Volksaber- 
glaube,* § 65 ; J. Lecceur, loc. cit, ; E. 
Meier, Deutsche Sagen, St'tten und Ge- 
brduche aus Schwaben, p. 51 1, § 422 ; 
Th. Siebs, "Das Saterland," Zeit^ 
schrift fiir Volkskunde, ill (1893), p. 


thought fit and natural that the operation of cutting down 
should be performed on earth at the time when the lunar orb 
was, so to say, being cut down in the sky. In France 
before the Revolution the forestry laws enjoined that trees 
should only be felled after the moon had passed the full ; 
and in French bills announcing the sale of timber you may 
still read a notice that the wood was cut in the waning 
of the moon.^ But sometimes the opposite rule is adopted, 
and equally forcible arguments are urged in its defence. 
Thus, when the Wabondei of Eastern Africa are about 
to build a house, they take care to cut the posts for it 
when the moon is on the increase ; for they say that 
posts cut when the moon is wasting away would soon 
rot, whereas posts cut while the moon is waxing are 
very durable.^ The same rule is observed for the same 
reason in some parts of Germany.* But the partisans of the 
ordinarily received opinion have sometimes supported it by 
another reason, which introduces us to the second of those 
fallacious appearances by which men have been led to regard 
the moon as the cause of growth in plants. From observing 
rightly that dew falls most thickly on cloudless nights, they 
inferred wrongly that it was caused by the moon, a theory 
which the poet Alcman expressed in mythical form by saying 
that dew was a daughter of Zeus and the moon.* Hence 
the ancients concluded that the moon is the great source of 
moisture, as the sun is the great source of heat.* And as 
the humid power of the moon was assumed to be greater 
when the planet was waxing than when it was waning, they 
thought that timber cut during the increase of the luminary 
would be saturated with moisture, whereas timber cut in the 
wane would be comparatively dry. Hence we are told that 
in antiquity carpenters would reject timber felled when the 
moon was growing or full, because they believed that such 
timber teemed with sap ; • and in the Vosges at the present 

' J. Lccneur, Esquisses du Hoca^ 3; Macrobius, Sat tint. y\\, 16. Sec 

Xonnand^ ii. 1 1 sq. further, W. H. Roschcr, Uher ScUuf und 

*-* O. Baumann, Usamhara tmd seine Verwandtes {X^v^k.^ 1^90), p. 49 sqq, 
^Vflf^Aa^yjr^iV/^ (Berlin, 1891), p. 125. * Plutarch and MncrolSius, 

^ Montanus, -Z>/> dV///y<//r I'olksfeste^ Pliny, Nat, Hist. ii. 223, xx. i; 

Volksbrduche und dctttscher I'olksgiatibe^ Aristotle, Ih-oblemata^xsCw. 14, p. 937 

p. 128. B, 3 sq, 

* Plutarch, Quaest, Comnv. iii. 10. * Macrobius and Plutarch, U.<c. 




day people allege that wood cut at the new moon does 
not 6xy} In the Hebrides peasants give the same reason 
for cutting their peats when the moon is on the wane ; 
** for they observe that if they are cut in the increase, they 
continue still moist and never burn clear, nor are they 
without smoke, but the contrary is daily observed of peats 
cut in the decrease." * 

Thus misled by a double fallacy primitive philosophy 
comes to view the moon as the great cause of vegetable 
growth, first, because the planet seems itself to grow, and 
second, because it is supposed to be the source of dew 
and moisture. It is no wonder, therefore, that agricultural 
peoples should adore the planet which they believe to in- 
fluence so profoundly the crops on which they depend 
for subsistence. Accordingly we find that in the hotter 
regions of America, where maize is cultivated and manioc is 
the staple food, the moon was recognised as the principal 
object of worship, and plantations of manioc were assigned 
to it as a return for the service it rendered in the production 
of the crops. The worship of the moon in preference to the 
sun was general among the Caribs, and, perhaps, also among 
most of the other Indian tribes who cultivated maize in the 
tropical forests to the east of the Andes ; and the same 
thing has been observed, under the, same physical conditions, 
among the aborigines of the hottest region of Peru, the 
northern valleys of Yuncapata. Here the Indians of Pacas- 
mayu and the neighbouring valleys revered the moon as 
their principal divinity. The " house of the moon " at Pacas- 
mayu was the chief temple of the district ; and the same 
sacrifices of maize-flour, of wine, and of children which were 
offered by the mountaineers of the Andes to the Sun-god, 
were offered by the lowlanders to the Moon-god in order 
that he might cause their crops to thrive.* In ancient 

* Sauvc, Folk-lore des Hatites- Vosgcs^ 

'^ Martin, ** Description of the West- 
ern Islands of Scotland," in Pinkerton's 
Voyaf^es and Trazrls^ xvi. 630. 

2 E. J. Payne, History of the Kc-.v 

World callca AtnericOf i. 495. In 

his remarks on the origin of moon- 

4vorship (p. 493 sqq,) this learned and 

philosophical historian has indicated 
the true causes which lead primitive 
man to trace tlie growth of plants to 
the influence of the moon. Compare 
E. R Tylor, Primitive Cultttre^x. 130. 
Mr. Payne suggests that the custom 
of naming the months after the 
principal natural products that ripen 
in them may have contributed to the 




Babylonia, where the population was essentially agricultural, 
the moon-god took precedence of the sun-god and was 
indeed reckoned his father.^ 

Thus it would be no matter for surprise if, after 
worshipping the crops which furnished them with the means 
of subsistence, the ancient Egyptians should in later times 
have identified the spirit of the com with the moon, which 
a pseudo- philosophy had taught them to regard as the 
ultimate cause of the growth of vegetation. In this way 
we can understand why in their more recent forms the myth 
and ritual of Osiris, the old god of trees and com, should 
bear many traces of efforts made to bring them into a 
superficial conformity with the new doctrine of his lunar 

§ 7. Dionysus 


The Greek god Dionysus or Bacchus* is best known as 
the god of the vine, but he was also a god of trees in general. 
Thus we are told that almost all the Greeks sacrificed to 
" Dionysus of the tree."* In Boeotia one of his titles was 
"Dionysus in the tree."* His image was often merely an 
upright post, without arms, but draped in a mantle, with a 
bearded mask to represent the head, and with leafy boughs 
projecting from the head or body to show the nature of the 
deity.* On a vase his rude effigy is depicted appearing out 

same result. The custom is certainly 
Tery common among savages, as I hope 
to show elsewhere, but whether it has 
contributed to foster the fallacy in 
question seems doubtful. 

^ E. A. Budge, NeducAadmztar, 
King of Babylon^ on recent fy-disccvered 
inscriptions of this King^ p. 5 sq. ; 
A. H. Sayce, Religion of the Ancient 
Babylonians t p. 155 ; M. Jastrow, 
Religion of Babylonia and Assyria 
(Boston, U.S., 1898), pp. 68 sq,^ 75 sq,\ 
L. W. King, Babylonian Religion and 
Mythology (London, 1899), p. 17 sq. 
The Ahts of Vancouver's Island, a 
tribe of fishers and hunters, view the 
moon as the husband of the sun and as 
a more powerful deity than her (Sproat, 
Scenes and Studies of Savage Life^ p. 

^ For more examples of the supposed 

influence of the moon on human affairs 
see Note B, "The doctrine of lunar 
sympathy," at the end of the volume. 

' On Dionjrsus in general see Preller, 
Griechische Mythologies^ L 544 sqq, ; 
Fr. Lenormant, article " Bacchus " in 
Daremberg et Saglio, Dictionnaire 
des Antiquitis grecques et romaines^ 
L 591 sqq, ; Voigt and Thraemer*s 
article " Dionysus " in Roscher's Aus- 
fiikrliches Lexihon dergriech, undrom. 
Mythologies i. col. 1029 sqq, 

* Plutarch, Qnaest, Conviv. v. 3 : 
AionV^y W ifpSplrff vdrrn, wt twos 
€lw€tM, 'EWfftfts $vovaur. 

^ Hesychius, x.v. 'Evderjpor. 

* See the pictures of his images, 
taken from ancient vases, in Botticher, 
Baumkultus der Hellenen, plates 42, 
43i 43 A, 43 B, 44 ; Daremberg et 
Saglio, op. cit. i. 361, 626. 


DIOX ] '.s 6 .V 



of a low tree or bush.^ He was the patron of cultivated 
trees ;^ prayers were offered to him that he would make the 
trees grow ;^ and he was especially honoured by husband- 
men, chiefly fruit-growers, who set up an image of him, in 
the shape of a natural tree-stump, in their orchards/ He 
was said to have discovered all tree-fruits, amongst which 
apples and figs are particularly mentioned ;* and he was 
himself spoken of as doing a husbandman's work.^ He was 
referred to as "well-fruited," "he of the green fruit," and 
" making the fruit to grow.'"^ One of his titles was " teem- 
ing " or " bursting " (as of sap or blossoms) f and there was 
a Flowery Dionysus in Attica and at Patrae in Achaia.* 
The Athenians sacrificed to him for the prosperity of the 
fruits of the earth.^** Amongst the trees particularly sacred to 
him, in addition to the vine, was the pine-tree.^^ The Delphic 
oracle commanded the Corinthians to worship a particular 
pine-tree " equally with the god," so they made two images 
of Dionysus out of it, with red faces and gilt bodies.^* In art 
a wand, tipped with a pine-cone, is commonly carried by the 
god or his worshippers.^' Again, the ivy and the fig-tree 
were especially associated with him. In the Attic township 
of Acharnae there was a Dionysus Ivy ;^* at Lacedaemon 
there was a Fig Dionysus ; and in Naxos, where figs were 
called mei/icAa, there was a Dionysus Meilichios, the face of 
whose image was made of fig-wood.^^ 

Like the other gods of vegetation whom we have been con- 
sidering, Dionysus was believed to have died a violent death, 

^ Daremberg et Saglio, cfi, cit, i. 

* CornutuSf De naiura deorumy 30. 
^ Pindar, quoted by Plutarch, Isis 

ct Osiris i 35. 

* Maximus Tyrius, Dissertat, viii. I . 
^ Athenaeus, iii. pp. 78 c, 82 n. 

^ Himerius, Orat. i. 10, ^ilavvcm 

^ Orphica^ Hymn I. 4, Hii. 8. 

■ Aelian, Var, Hist. iii. 41 : 
Hesychius, s.v. ♦X^«[f]. Cp. Pluiarch, 
Quoist, Cotnnv. v. 8. 3. 

* Pausanias, i. 31. 4; id. vii. 21. 

w Dittcnbcrgcr, SyUo}^ Inscrip- 
iionunK Grcucamm^ No. 382. 


1^ Plutarch, Quaest, Cottviv, v. 3. 

'- Pausanias, ii. 2. 6 sq. Pausanias 
does not mention the kind of tree ; 
l>ut from Euripides, Bacchae, 1064 
jyy., and Philostratus, Ima^. i. 17 
(18), we may infer that it was a pine, 
though Theocritus (xxvL 1 1 ) speaks 
of it as a mastich-tree. 

" Mviller-Wieseler, Denkmaler dt-r 
altCH Kunsty ii. pi. xxxii. stjq. ; 
Baumeister, Dcftkmdlcr des klassischen 
Altertums^ i. figures 489, 491, 492, 
495. Cp. Lenormant in Daremberg et 
Saglio, Di(t. des AntiguiUs^ i. 623 ; 
Lobcck, A^laophamits^ p. 700. 

*^ Pausanias, i. 31. 6. 

*^ Athenaeus, iii. p. 78 c. 





but to have been brought to life again ; and his sufferings, 
death, and resurrection were enacted in his sacred rites. 
The Cretan myth, as related by Firmicus, ran thus. He 
was said to have been the bastard son of Jupiter, a Cretan 
king. Going abroad, Jupiter transferred the throne and 
sceptre to the youthful Dionysus, but, knowing that his wife 
Juno cherished a jealous dislike of the child, he entrusted 
Dionysus to the care of guards upon whose fidelity he 
believed he could rely. Juno, however, bribed the guards, 
and amusing the child with toys and a cunningly-wrought 
looking-glass lured him into an ambush, where her satellites, 
the Titans, rushed upon him, cut him limb from limb, boiled 
his body with various herbs and ate it. But his sister 
Minerva, who had shared in the deed, kept his heart and 
gave it to Jupiter on his return, revealing to him the whole 
history of the crime. In his rage, Jupiter put the Titans to 
death by torture, and, to soothe his grief for the loss of his 
son, made an image in which he enclosed the child's heart, 
and then built a temple in his honour.^ In this version a 
Euhemeristic turn has been given to the myth by repre- 
senting Jupiter and Juno (Zeus and Hera) as a king and 
queen of Crete. The guards referred to are the mythical 
Curetes who danced a war-dance round the infant Dionysus, 
as they are said to have done round the infant Zeus.* Pome- 
granates were supposed to have sprung from the blood of 
Dionysus,' as anemones from the blood of Adonis and violets 
from the blood of Attis. According to some, the severed 
limbs of Dionysus were pieced together, at the command of 
Zeus, by Apollo, who buried them on Parnassus.^ The 
grave of Dionysus was shown in the Delphic temple beside 
a golden statue of Apollo.* Thus far the resurrection of 

* Firmicus Maternus, De errore pro- 
fanarum rtligionum^ 6. 

' Clemens Alexandr. Proirept, ii. 
17. Cp. Lobeck, Aglaopkamus, p. 
1 1 1 1 jyy. 

- Clemens Alexandr. Frotrcpt, ii. 


* Clemens Alexandr. Protrept, ii. 

18 ; Procluson Plato's Timaeus, iii. p. 
200 D, quoted by Lobeck, ^.^/rKy/^a/wz/y, 
p. 562, and by Abel, Orphkn^ p. 234. 
Others said that the mangled l>ody was 

pieced together, not by Apollo but by 
Khea (Cornutus, Dt nattira deoruniy 


*» Lobeck, Af^laop/itwius, P* 57^ ^^^' 
For a conjectural restoration of Uie 
temple, based on ancient authorities 
and an examination of the scanty 
remains, see an article by J. H. 
Middleton, in Journal of Hellenic 
StuJuSj vol. ix. p. 282 Si^q. The 
ruins of the temple have now been 
completely excavated by the French. 






the slain god is not mentioned, but in other versions of the 
myth it is variously related. According to one version, which 
represented Dionysus as a son of Demeter, his mother 
pieced together his mangled limbs and made him young 
again.^ In others it is simply said that shortly after his 
burial he rose from the dead and ascended up to heaven ;' 
or that Zeus raised him up as he lay mortally wounded ;' or 
that Zeus swallowed the heart of Dionysus and then begat 
him afresh by Semele,* who in the common legend figures 
as mother of Dionysus. Or, again, the heart was pounded 
up and given in a potion to Semelc, who thereby conceived 

Turning from the myth to the ritual, we find that the 
Cretans celebrated a biennial* festival at which the sufferings 
and death of Dionysus were represented in every detailJ 
Where the resurrection formed part of the myth, it also was 
acted at the rites,^ and it even appears that a general 
doctrine of resurrection, or at least of immortality, was 
inculcated on the worshippers ; for Plutarch, writing to 
console his wife on the death of their infant daughter, 
comforts her with the thought of the immortality of the 
soul as taught by tradition and revealed in the mysteries of 
Dionysus.* A different form of the myth of the death and 
resurrection of Dionysus is that he descended into Hades to 
bring up his mother Semele from the dead.*** The local 
Argive tradition was that he went down through the Alcyonian 

^ Diodorus, iii. 62. 

* Macrobius, Comment, in Somn. 
Scip, i. 12. 12 ; Scriptores reriim 
mythicarum Latini tres Rom<u nuper 
reperti (commonly referred to as 
Mythographi Vaticani)^ ed. G. II. 
Bode (Cellis, 1834), iii. 12. 5, p. 246 ; 
Origen, c, Ceis, iv. 171, quoted by 
Lobeck, Aglaophamus^ p. 713. 

^ Himerius, Orat. ix. 4. 

* Proclus, Hymn to Mincn^a^ in 
\JQ\xx^i^ Agtaophamus^^. 561 ; Orphica, 
ed. Abel, p. 235. 

* Hyginus, Fab. 167. 

^ The festivals of Dionysus were 
biennial in many places. See Scho- 
niann, Griechische Alterthiimer^ ii. 
500 sqq, (The terms for the festival 
were Tpieriipitf rptmj/Micif , both terms of 

the series being included in the numera« 
tion, in accordance with the ancient mode 
of reckoning.) Probably the festivals 
were formerly annual and the period 
was afterwards lengthened, as has 
happened with other festi\'als. See 
\V. Mannhardt, Battmkultus^ pp. 172, 
>75» 49if 533 J^» 598. Some of the 
festivals of Dionysus, however, were 

' Firmicus Matemus, De err. prof, 
relig, 6. 

^ Alythogr, Vatic, ed. Bode, /.r. 

* Plutarch, Com sol, ad uxor, 10. 
Compare id,^ Jsiset Osiris^ 35 ; id., De 
E Delphico, 9 ; id., De esit cantium^ 
i. 7. 

^^ Pausanias, ii. 31. 2 and 37. 5 ; 
ApoUodorus, iii. 5. 3. 




lake ; and his return from the lower world, in other words 
his resurrection, was annually celebrated on the spot by the 
Argives, who summoned him from the water by trumpet 
blasts, while they threw a lamb into the lake as an offering 
to the warder of the dead.^ Whether this was a spring 
festival does not appear, but the Lydians certainly celebrated 
the advent of Dionysus in spring ; the god was supposed to 
bring the season with him.* Deities of vegetation, who are 
supposed to pass a certain portion of each year under- 
ground, naturally come to be regarded as gods of the lower 
world or of the dead. Both Dionysus and Osiris were so 

A feature in the mythical character of Dionysus, which 
at first sight appears inconsistent with his nature as a deity 
of vegetation, is that he was often conceived and represented 
in animal shape, especially in the form, or at least with 
the horns, of a bull. Thus he is spoken of as ** cow-bom," 
"bull," "bull-shaped," "bull-faced," "bull-browed," "bull- 
homed," " hom-bearing," " two-homed," " homed."* He was 
believed to appear, at least occasionally, as a bull.^ His 
images were often, as at Cyzicus, made in bull shape,^ or 
with bull horns '^ and he was painted with homs.* Types 
of the horned Dionysus are found amongst the surviving 
monuments of antiquity.^ On one statuette he appears clad 
in a bull's hide, the head, horns, and hoofs hanging down 

1 Pausanias, ii. 37. 5 sq,\ Plutarch, 
I sis ei Osiris t 35; itLf Quaest, Conviv. 
\y, 6. 2. 

' Himerius, Orat, iiL 6, xiv. 7. 

' For Dionysus, see Lenormant in 
Daremberg et Saglio, Diet, dcs An^ 
tiquiUs^ i. 632. For Osiris, see 
Wilkinson, Manners and Customs of 
the Ancient Egyptians (London, 1S78), 
iii 65. 

* Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, 35 ; iV/., 
Quaest, Graec, 36 ; Athenaeus, xi. p. 
476 A ; Clemens Alexandr. Protreftt. 
ii. 16 ; OrphicOy Hymn xxx. %nf, 3. 4, 
xlv. I, Iii. 2, liii. 8; Euripides, Baeckae, 
99 ; Schol. on Aristophanes, Frogs^ 
357; Nicander, AUxipharmaca^ 31; 
Lucian, Bacchus^ 2. The title Eipa- 
^(innit applied to Dionysus {//omen'c 
I/j'wns, xxxiv. 2 ; Porph)T)', Dc 

abstinentia, iii. 17 ; Dionysius, Perieg, 
576; Etymohg, Magnum, p. 371. 57) 
is etymologically equivalent to the 
Sanscrit varsabha **a bull," as I am 
informed by my friend Mr. K. A. Neil. 

^ Euripides, Bacchae, 920 sqq., 

^ Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, 35 ; 
Athenaeus, l,c. 

^ Diodorus, iii. 64. 2, iv. 4. 2 ; 
Comutus, De natura deortim, 30. 

* Diodorus, l.c, ; Tzetzes, Schol. oft 
Lycophron, 209 ; Philostratus, Imagi- 
nes, i. 14 (15). 

• Miiller-Wieseler, Detikmii/er dcr 
attett Kunst^ ii. pi. xxxiii. ; Daremberg;; 
et Saglio, Diet, des Antiquit^s, i. 619 
s^'% 63' ; Roscher, Aus/iihrl. Lexikoti, 
i. col. 1 149 sqq. 




behind.* Again, he is represented as a child with clusters 
of grapes round his brow, and a calfs head, with sprouting 
horns, attached to the back of his head.^ On a red-figured 
vase the god is portrayed as a calf-headed child seated on a 
woman's lap.* At his festivals Dionysus was believed to 
appear in bull form. The women of Elis hailed him as a 
bull, and prayed him to come with his bull's foot. They 
sang, " Come hither, Dionysus, to thy holy temple by the 
sea ; come with the Graces to thy temple, rushing with thy 
bull's foot, O goodly bull, O goodly bull !"* According to 
the myth, it was in the shape of a bull that he was torn to 
pieces by the Titans ;* and the Cretans, when they acted 
the sufferings and death of Dionysus, tore a live bull to 
pieces with their teeth.* Indeed, the rending and devouring 
of live bulls and calves appear to have been a regular feature 
of the Dionysiac rites/ When we consider the practice of 
portraying the god as a bull or with some of the features of 
the animal, the belief that he appeared in bull form to his 
worshippers at the sacred rites, and the legend that it was 
in bull form that he had been torn in pieces, we cannot 
doubt that in rending and devouring a live bull at his 
festival the worshippers of Dionysus believed that they were 
killing the god, eating his flesh, and drinking his blood. 

Another animal whose form Dionysus assumed was the 
goat. One of his names was " Kid."* At Athens and at 
Hermion he was worshipped under the title of " the one of 
the Black Goatskin," and a legend ran that on a certain 
occasion he had appeared clad in the skin from which he 
took the title.* In the wine-growing district of Phlius, where 
in autumn the plain is still thickly mantled with the red and 

1 Wtrlckcr, Alte Denhnaler, v. taf. 2. 

* Archaeologische Zeitung^ ix. 
(1851), pi. xxxiii., with Gerhard's 
remarks, pp. 37 1-37 3- 

^ Gautte Archiologique^ v. (1879), 

H- 3- 

^ Plutarch, Quaest, Craec, 36 ; 

iV/., /sis et Osiris y 35. 

^ Nonnus, Dionys, vi. 205. 

^ Firmicus Maternus, De errore pro- 
fan. religio9tum^ 6. 

* Euripides, Bacchae^ 735 sqq, ; 
Schol. on Aristophanes, Frogs^ 357. 

* Hesychius, s,v. 'Epupot 6 Atdi^vffot, 
on which there is a marginal gloss 
6 fUKpds ar<^, 6 ^r ry; fapc ^cup6fi€irot, 
Ijyow 6 vpfMfUft ; Slephanus Byzant. 
s.v, 'Aicpc^pcia. 

* Pausanias, ii. 35. i ; Schol. on 
Aristophanes, Acharn, \^6\ Etymolog, 
Magn, s,v. 'Araroi'piat p. 118. 54 Jy^. ; 
Suidas, s,vz\ 'AraroOpia and fJitXa- 
imlyiia At6rt'(ror ; Nonnus, Dionys. 
xxvii. 362. Compare Conon, Narrat, 
39, where for }>U\a¥$ihji we should 
perhaps read McXai^ai^tdt. 




golden foliage of the fading vines, there stood of old a bronze 
image of a goat, which the husbandmen plastered with gold- 
leaf as a means of protecting their vines against blight.^ 
The image probably represented the vine-god himself. To 
save him from the wrath of Hera, his father Zeus changed 
the youthful Dionysus into a kid ;^ and when the gods fled 
to Egypt to escape the fury of Typhon, Dionysus was turned 
into a goat.* Hence when his worshippers rent in pieces a 
live goat and devoured it raw,* they must have believed that 
they were eating the body and blood of the god. 

This custom of killing a god in animal form, which we 
shall examine more in detail presently, belongs to a very 
early stage of human culture, and is apt in later times to be 
misunderstood. The advance of thought tends to strip the 
old animal and plant gods of their bestial and vegetable 
husk, and to leave their human attributes (which are always 
the kernel of the conception) as the final and sole residuum. 
In other words, animal and plant gods tend to become 
purely anthropomorphic. When they have become wholly 
or nearly so, the animals and plants which were at first the 
deities themselves, still retain a vague and ill-understood 
connection with the anthropomorphic gods which have been 
developed out of them. The origin of the relationship 
between the deity and the animal or plant having been 
forgotten, various stories are invented to explain it. These 
explanations may follow one of two lines according as they 
are based on the habitual or on the exceptional treatment 
of the sacred animal or plant. The sacred animal was 
habitually spared, and only exceptionally slain ; and accord- 
ingly the myth might be devised to explain either why it 
was spared or why it was killed. Devised for the former 


' Pausanias, ii. 13. 6. On their 
return from Troy the Greeks are said 
to have found goats and an image of 
Dionysus in a cave of Euboea (Pausanias, 
i. 23. I). 

^ Apollodorus, iii. 4. 3. 

^ Ovid, Meiam. v. 329 ; Antoninus 
Liberal is, 28; Mj'/hojp: fatic. ed. 
Bode, i. 86, p. 29. 

* .'\rnobius, Atk'. ttationts^ v. 19. 
Cp. Suidas, J.r. aiyi^€iv. As fawns 

appear to have been also torn in pieces 
at the rites of Dionysus (Photius, 
l^xicon^ j.r. P€ppl^€iir ; llarpocration, 
S.7'. ¥€^pL^bf9)y it is probable that the 
fawn was another of the god's embodi- 
menUi. But of this there seems no d i rect 
evidence. Fawn-skins were worn Iwili 
by the god and his worshippers (Cor- 
nutus, De natura deorum^ 30). Simi- 
larly the female Bacchanals wore goal- 
skins (Hesychins, J.r. rpa7i706poi). 




purpose, the myth would tell of some service rendered to the 
deity by the animal ; devised for the latter purpose, the 
myth would tell of some injury inflicted by the animal on 
the god. The reason given for sacrificing goats to Dionysus 
is an example of a myth of the latter sort. They were 
sacrificed to him, it was said, because they injured the vine.^ 
Now the goat, as we have seen, was originally an embodi- 
ment of the god himself. But when the god had divested 
himself of his animal character and had become essentially 
anthropomorphic, the killing of the goat in his worship came 
to be regarded no longer as a slaying of the god himself, but 
as a sacrifice offered to him ; and since some reason had to 
be assigned why the goat in particular should be sacrificed, 
it was alleged that this was a punishment inflicted on the 
goat for injuring the vine, the object of the god's especial 
care. Thus we have the strange spectacle of a god sacrificed 
to himself on the ground that he is his own enemy. And 
as the god is supposed to partake of the victim offered to 
him, it follows that, when the victim is the god's old self, the 
god eats of his own flesh. Hence the goat-god Dionysus is 
represented as eating raw goat's blood ;* and the bull-god 
Dionysus is called "eater of bulls."* On the analogy of 
these instances we may conjecture that wherever a god is 
described as the eater of a particular animal, the animal in 
question was originally nothing but the god himself.* 

All this, however, does not explain why a deity of 
vegetation should appear in animal form. But the con- 

* Yarro, /?<• re rust hat i. 2. 19 ; 
Virgil, Geor^. ii. 380, and Scrvius, 
ad. /. , and on Aeii. iii. 1 1 8 ; Ovid, Fasti^ 
i. 353 sqq.'y id. J Met am. xv. 1 14 sq, ; 
Cornuliis, Dc ttatura deontm, 30. 

^ Euripides, Bacchac^ 1 38 sq. : dyp^vwp 
alfia rpaycKTdi'Ov, u)tio4>dyo¥ X^P"'* 

•* Schol. on$, Frot^^ 


"* Hera ai'^o^dyoi at Sparta, Pau- 

sanias, iii. 15. 9; Ilesychius, s,v. 

aiyo^yot (cp. the representation of 

Ilera clad in a «;oat's skin, with the 

animal's head anti horns over her head, 

MUUer-Wicselcr, Denkmakr der alten 

A'iiitst, i. No. 299 II) ; Zeus at'To^dTOT, 

Etyfttoht;. J\/d,;ftrtw, s.v. aiyo^yosy 

p. 27. 52 (cp. Schol. on Oppianus, 
Halieut. iii. lo; L. Stephani, in 
Compte - Kendu de la Commission 
Imfiriale Archcolo^ique pour Pantt^e 
1869 (St. Petersburg, 1870), pp. i6- 
18) ; Apollo 6^o^7ot at Elis, Athen- 
aeus,viii. p. 346 it; Artemis ra«-/>o^7ot 
in Samos, Hesychius, s.v. Kawpo^ym; 
cp. idtmy S.7'. Kpiotpayoi. Divine titles 
derived from killing animals are prob- 
ably to l)e similarly explained, as 
Dionysus a,iyit^o\ot (Pausanias, ix. 8. 
2); Rhea or Hecate Kwoo^yift 
(Tzetzes, Sihol. on I.ycophron^ 77); 
.Apollo \v«ro«rrAi»os (Sophocles, Jilectra, 
6); Apollo oavpoKrbPot (I'liny, AW. 
Hist, xxxiv. 70). 

1 68 



sideration of this point had better be deferred till we have 
discussed the character and attributes of Demeter. Mean- 
time it remains to point out that in some places, instead of 
an animal, a human being was torn in pieces at the rites of 
Dionysus. This was the custom in Chios and Tenedos ;^ 
and at Potniae in Boeotia the tradition ran that it had been 
formerly the custom to sacrifice to the goat-smiting Dionysus 
a child, for whom a goat was afterwards substituted.* At 
Orchomenus, as we have seen, the human victim was taken 
from the women of an old royal family.' As the slain bull 
or goat represented the slain god, so, we may suppose, the 
human victim also represented him. It is possible, however, 
that a legend of human sacrifice may sometimes have been 
a mere misinterpretation of a sacrificial ritual in which an 
animal victim was treated as a human being. For example, 
at Tenedos the new-born calf sacrificed to Dionysus was 
shod in buskins, and the mother cow was tended like a 
woman in child-bed.* At Rome a she-goat was sacrificed to 
Vedijovis as if it were a human victim.* 

§ 8. Demeter and Proserpine 

The Greek myth of Demeter and Proserpine is sub- 
stantially identical with the Syrian myth of Aphrodite 
(Astarte) and Adonis, the Phrygian myth of Cybele and 
Attis, and the Egyptian myth of Isis and Osiris. In the 
Greek myth, as in its Asiatic and Egyptian counterparts, 
a goddess — Demeter — mourns the loss of a loved one — 
Proserpine — ^who personifies the vegetation, more especially 
the com, which dies in summer to revive in spring. But 
in the Greek myth the loved and lost one is the daughter 
instead of the husband or lover of the goddess ; and the 
mother as well as the daughter is a goddess of the corn.^ 

' Porphyry, De abstin, ii. 55. 

* Pausanias, ix. 8. 2. 
' See above, p. 36 sq, 

^ AeliaD, Nat, An, xii. 34. Cp. 
\V. Robertson Smith, Reli^on of the 
Semi/es,* p. 300 sqq. 

^ Aulus GelHus, v. 12. 12. 

* On Demeter as a corn-goddess see 
Mannhardt, Mytholoi^sche Fcrschttngen^ 

p. 224 sqq, ; on Proserpine in the same 
character see Comutus, ZV tiat, dt'or. 
28 ; Varro in Augustine, Civ, Dei^ 
vii. 20 ; Hesychius, s.x: 4»e/)^(0^cca ; 
Finnicus Matemus, De errore prof, 
relig. 17. In his careful account of 
Demeter as a corn-goddess Mannhardt 
appears to have overlooked the very 
important statement of Hippolylus 





Thus, as modern scholars have recognised/ Demeter and 
Proserpine are merely a mythical reduplication of the same 
natural phenomenon. Proserpine, so ran the Greek myth,* 
was gathering flowers when the earth gaped, and Pluto, 
lord of the Dead, issuing from the abyss, carried her off on 
his golden car to be his bride in the gloomy subterranean 
world. Her sorrowing mother Demeter sought her over 
land and sea, and learning from the Sun her daughter's 
fate, she suffered not the seed to grow, but kept it hidden 
in the ground, so that the whole race of men would have 
died of hunger if Zeus had not sent and fetched Proserpine 
from the nether world. Finally it was agreed that Proserpine 
should spend a third, or according to others a half,* of each 
year with Pluto underground, but should come forth in 
spring to dwell with her mother and the gods in the upper 
world. Her annual death and resurrection, that is, her 
annual descent into the under world and her ascension from 
it, appear to have been represented in her rites.* 

With regard to the name Demeter, it has been plausibly 
argued by Mannhardt* that the first part of the word is 
derived from deai^ a Cretan word for " barley " ;• and that 
thus Demeter means the Barley-mother or the Corn-mother ; 

(Refut, omtt, haeres, v. 8, p. 1 62, ed. 
Duncker and Schneidewin) that at the 
initiation into the Eleusinian mysteries 
(the most famous of all the rites of 
Demeter) the central mystery revealed 
to the initiated was a reaped ear of 

* Wclckcr, CrUchisehe GotterUhre^ 
ii. 532 ; Prellcr, in Pauly's Real- 
Encyclopddie fur class, Alterthnmswiss, 
vi. 107 ; Lenormant in Darembeig 
et Saglio, DUtionnaire des AntiquiUs 
gr€cqu€s €t romatnes^ i. pt. ii. 1 047 
sqq, Comjare Dittenberger, Sylloge 
Inscripticnum Craecarum^ No. 370, 
note 13. 

- Homer, Hymn to Demeter; Apol- 
lodorus, i. 5 ; Ovid, Fasti^ iv. 425 
sqq, ; id, , Metam, v. 385 sqq, 

' A third, according to Homer, H, 
to Demeter^ 399, and Apollodorus, i. 
5. 3 ; a half, according to Ovid, Fasti^ 
iv. 614 ; /(/., Metam, v. 567 ; Hjrginus, 
lab, 146. 

^ Schomann, Gritch, Alterthutner^ 
ii. 393; Prellcr, Griech. Mytkologie? 
\, 628 sq,^ 644 sq,t 650 sq. The 
evidence of the ancients on this head, 
though not full and definite, seems 
sufficient. See Diodorus, v. 4 ; Fir- 
micus Matemus, De err, prof, relig, 7, 
27 ; Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, 69 ; Apu- 
leius. Met, vi. 2 ; Clemens Alex. PrO' 
trept, ii. §§ 12, 17 ; Hesychius, x.v. 
iro^TftV ; S. Reinach, Traiti d^Epi- 
graphie Grecque (Paris, 1 885), p. 141 
sqq, ; \V. Immerwahr, Die Kulte und 
A/ythett Arkadiens (Leipsic, 1 891), p. 
100 sqq, (inscriptions found at Man- 
tinea). In a Greek calendar of Asia 
Minor *'the ascent of the goddess*' is 
dated the seventh dayof themonth Dius, 
and the *< descent of the goddess" the 
fourth day of the month Hephaestius 
(W. Froehner, Les Inscriptions Grecqttes 
dtt Louvre, No. 33, p. 50 sq,), 

^ Mythol, Forschnngen, p. 292 sqq, 
* Etymol, Magtwm, p. 264. 12 sq. 




for the root of the word seems to have been applied to 
different kinds of grain by different branches of the Aryans, 
and even of the Greeks themselves.^ As Crete appears to 
have been one of the most ancient seats of the worship of 
Demeter,^ it is not surprising that her name should be of 
Cretan origin. This explanation of the name Demeter is 
supported by a host of analogies which the diligence of 
Mannhardt has collected from modern European folk-lore, 
and of which the following are specimens. In Germany the 
com is very commonly personified under the name of the 
Corn-mother. Thus in spring, when the com waves in the 
wind, the peasants say, " There comes the Corn-mother," or 
"The Corn-mother is running over the field," or "The 
Corn-mother is going through the corn."* When children 
wish to go into the fields to pull the blue com-flowers 
or the red poppies, they are told not to do so, because 
the Corn-mother is sitting in the corn and will catch them.* 
Or again she is called, according to the crop, the Rye- 
mother or the Pea-mother, and children are warned against 
straying in the rye or among the peas by threats of the 
Rye-mother or the Pea-mother. In Norway also the Pea- 
mother is said to sit among the peas.^ Similar expressions 
are current among the Slavs. The Poles and Czechs wam 
children against the Com-mother who sits in the com. Or 
they call her the old Com-woman, and say that she sits in 
the corn and strangles the children who tread it down.^ 
The Lithuanians say, "The Old Rye-woman sits in the 
corn."^ Again the Corn-mother is believed to make the 
crop grow. Thus in the neighbourhood of Magdeburg it is 
sometimes said, " It will be a good year for flax ; the Flax- 
mother has been seen." At Dinkelsbiihl, in Bavaria, down 

^ O. Schrader, Sprachvergleitkung 
und UrgeschichU^ (Jena, 1S90), pp. 
409, 422 ; V. Hehn, Kulturpflanzm 
und Hatisthiere in ihrem U^rgang 
aus Aiien^^ p. 65. Aiyoi is doubtless 
equivalent etymologically to ^e<a/, 
which is often taken to be spelt, but 
this seems uncertain. 

^ Hesiod, Tluog, 971 ; Lenormant 
in Daremberg et Saglio, Did, dts 
AntiqttiUSy i. pt. iu p. 1 029. 

' W. Mannhardt, AfythoL Forsch, 

p. 296. Cp. O. Hartung, *<Zur 
Volkskunde aus Anhalt," Zeitschrift 
des Vereinsfiir Volkskunde^ vii. (1897), 
p. 150. 

* W. Mannhardt, Mytkol. Eorsck, 
p. 297. 

•* Ibid. p. 297 sq. 

• Ibid. p. 299. Compare R. Andree, 
Braumckivcigtr I'oIkskundCf p. 281. 

^ \V. Mannhardt, MyikoL Forstk, 
p. 300- 



to twenty-five or thirty years ago, people believed that when 
the crops on a particular farm compared unfavourably with 


those of the neighbourhood, the reason was that the Corn- 
mother had punished the farmer for his sins.^ In a village 
of Styria it is said that the Corn-mother, in the shape of a 
female puppet made out of the last sheaf of corn and dressed 
in white, may be seen at midnight in the corn-fields, which 
she fertilises by passing through them ; but if she is angry 
with a farmer, she withers up all his corn.* 

Further, the Corn-mother plays an important part in 
harvest customs. She is believed to be present in the 
handful of corn which is left standing last on the field ; and 
with the cutting of this last handful she is caught, or driven 
away, or killed. In the first of these cases, the last sheaf 
is carried joyfully home and honoured as a divine being. 
It is placed in the barn, and at threshing the corn-spirit 
appears again.' In the Hanoverian district of Hadeln the 
reapers stand round the last sheaf and beat it with sticks 
in order to drive the Corn-mother out of it They call to 
each other, " There she is I hit her ! Take care she doesn't 
catch you 1 " The beating goes on till the grain is com- 
pletely threshed out ; then the Corn-mother is believed to 
be driven away.* In the neighbourhood of Danzig the 
person who cuts the last ears of corn makes them into a 
doll, which is called the Corn-mother or the Old Woman 
and is brought home on the last waggon.^ In some parts 
of Holstein the last sheaf is dressed in woman's clothes and 
called the Corn-mother. It is carried home on the last 
waggon, and then thoroughly drenched with water. The 
drenching with water is doubtless a rain-charm.* In the 
district of Bruck in Styria the last sheaf, called the Corn- 
mother, is made up into the shaf>e of a woman by the 
oldest married woman in the village, of an age from fifty to 
fifty-five years. • The finest ears are plucked out of it and 
made into a wreath, which, twined with flowers, is carried on 
her head by the prettiest girl of the village to the farmer or 

» W. Mannhardl, MythoL Forsch. < Ibid. p. 316. 

^ Ibid. p. 310 stj. Compare O. \ o t 

ll.irtung, /.«'. ^ Ibid, jx 317. As to such rain- 

^ W. Mannhardt, op, at. p. 316. rharnis, sec above, p. 121 sqq. 





squire, while the Corn-mother is laid down in the barn to 
keep off the mice.^ In other villages of the same district 
the Corn-mother, at the close of harvest, is carried by two 
lads at the top of a pole. They march behind the girl who 
wears the wreath to the squire's house, and while he receives 
the wreath and hangs it up in the hall, the Corn-mother is 
placed on the top of a pile of wood, where she is the centre 
of the harvest supper and dance. Afterwards she is hung 
up in the bam and remains there till the threshing is over. 
The man who gives the last stroke at threshing is called the 
son of the Corn-mother ; he is tied up in the Corn-mother, 
beaten, and carried through the village. The wreath is 
dedicated in church on the following Sunday ; and on 
Easter Eve the grain is rubbed out of it by a seven years* 
old girl and scattered amongst the young corn. At Christ- 
mas the straw of the wreath is placed in the manger to 
make the cattle thrive.* Here the fertilising power of the 
Corn-mother is plainly brought out by scattering the seed 
taken from her body (for the wreath is made out of the 
Corn-mother) among the new corn ; and her influence over 
animal life is indicated by placing the straw in the manger. 
At Westerhlisen, in Saxony, the last corn cut is made in the 
shape of a woman decked with ribbons and cloth. It is 
fastened to a pole and brought home on the last waggon. 
One of the people in the waggon keeps waving the pole, 
so that the figure moves as if alive. It is placed on the 
threshing-floor, and stays there till the threshing is done.' 
Amongst the Slavs also the last sheaf is known as the 
Rye - mother, the Wheat - mother, the Oats - mother, the 
Barley-mother, and so on, according to the crop. In the 
district of Tarnow, Galicia, the wreath made out of the last 
stalks is called the Wheat-mother, Rye-mother, or Pea- 
mother. It is placed on a girl's head and kept till spring, 
when some of the grain is mixed with the seed-corn.* Here 
again the fertilising power of the Corn-mother is indicated. 
In France, also, in the neighbourhood of Auxerre, the last 
sheaf goes by the name of the Mother of the Wheat, Mother 
of the Barley, Mother of the Rye, or Mother of the Oats. 

' \V. Mannhardt, Mytho'ogis(he Forschu9tgen^ p. 317. 
' Ibid, p. 317 J^. ' Ibid. p. 318. * Ibid. 



They leave it standing in the field till the last waggon is 
about to wend homewards. Then they make a puppet out 
of it, dress it with clothes belonging to the farmer, and adorn 
it with a crown and a blue or white scarf. A branch of a tree 
is stuck in the breast of the puppet, which is now called the 
Ceres. At the dance in the evening the Ceres is set in the 
middle of the floor, and the reaper who reaped fastest dances 
round it with the prettiest girl for his partner. After the 
dance a pyre is made. All the girls, each wearing a wreath, 
strip the puppet, pull it to pieces, and place it on the pyre, 
along with the flowers with which it was adorned. Then 
the girl who was the first to finish reaping sets fire to the 
pile, and all pray that Ceres may give a fruitful year. Here, 
as Mannhardt observes, the old custom has remained intact, 
though the name Ceres is a bit of schoolmaster's learning.^ 
In Upper Brittany the last sheaf is always made into human 
shape ; but if the farmer is a married man, it is made double 
and consists of a little corn-puppet placed inside of a lai^e 
one. This is called the Mother-sheaf. It is delivered to the 
farmer's wife, who unties it and gives drink-money in return.* 

Sometimes the last sheaf is called, not the Corn-mother, 
but the Harvest - mother or the Great Mother. In the 
province of Osnabriick, Hanover, it is called the Harvest- 
mother ; it is made up in female form, and then the reapers 
dance about with it. In some part of Westphalia the last 
sheaf at the rye-harvest is made especially heavy by fasten- 
ing stones in it They bring it home on the last waggon 
and call it the Great Mother, though they do not fashion 
it into any special shape. In the district of Erfurt a very 
heavy sheaf, not necessarily the last, is called the Great 
Mother, and is carried on the last waggon to the barn, 
where all hands lift it down amid a fire of jokes.' 

Sometimes again the last sheaf is called the Grand- 
mother, and is adorned with flowers, ribbons, and a woman's 
apron. In East Prussia, at the rye or wheat har\'est, the 
reapers call out to the woman who binds the last sheaf, 
" You are getting the Old Grandmother." In the neigh- 

* \V. Mannhardt, op. at. p. 318 st/, 

2 S^billot, Coutuntes ftopulairesdc la Hautt-Bretagtte^ p. 306. 

5 \V. Mannhardt, M.F, p. 319. 




bourhood of Magdeburg the men and women servants strive 
who shall get the last sheaf, called the Grandmother. Who- 
ever gets it will be married in the next year, but his or 
her spouse will be old ; if a girl gets it, she will marry a 
widower ; if a man gets it, he will marry an old crone. In 
Silesia the Grandmother — a huge bundle made up of three 
or four sheaves by the person who tied the last sheaf — was 
formerly fashioned into a rude likeness of the human form.^ 
In the neighbourhood of Belfast the last sheaf sometimes 
goes by the name of the Granny. It is not cut in the usual 
way, but all the i:eapers throw their sickles at it and try to 
bring it down. It is plaited and kept till the (next ?) autumn. 
Whoever gets it will marry in the course of the year.* 

Oftener the last sheaf is called the Old Woman or the 
Old Man. In Germany it is frequently shaped and dressed 
as a woman, and the person who cuts it or binds it is said to 
" get the Old Woman."* At Altisheim, in Swabia, when all 
the corn of a farm has been cut except a single strip, all 
the reapers stand in a row before the strip ; each cuts his 
share rapidly, and he who gives the last cut " has the Old 
Woman."* When the sheaves are being set up in heaps, 
the person who gets hold of the Old Woman, which is the 
largest and thickest of all the sheaves, is jeered at by the 
rest, who sing out to him, " He has the Old Woman and 
must keep her."* The woman who binds the last sheaf is 
sometimes herself called the Old Woman, and it is said 
that she will be married in the next year.* In Neusaass, 
West Prussia, both the last sheaf — which is dressed up in 
jacket, hat, and ribbons — and the woman who binds it are 
called the Old Woman. Together they are brought home 
on the last waggon and are drenched with water.^ At 
Homkampe, near Tiegenhof (West Prussia), when a man or 
woman lags behind the rest in binding the corn, the other 
reapers dress up the last sheaf in the form of a man or 
woman, and this figure goes by the laggard's name, as " the 
old Michael," " the idle Trine." It is brought home on the 

* W. Mannhanit, Af./'\ p. 320. 

- /hid. p. 321. 

3 Ibid. pp. 321, 323, 325 jy. 

* /bid. p. 323 ; Panzer, Beit rag 'ur 
deutschen Mythologies ii. p. 219, § 403. 

* W. Mannhardt, op, n't. p. 325. 

* /bid. p. 323. 7 /bid. 


last waggon, and, as it nears the house, the bystanders call 
out to the laggard, " You have got the Old Woman and 
must keep her."^ In Brandenburg the young folks on 
the harvest - field race towards a sheaf and jump over it. 
The last to jump over it has to carry a straw puppet, 
adorned with ribbons, to the farmer and deliver it to 
him while he recites some verses. Of the person who thus 
carries the puppet it is said that " he has the Old Man." 
Probably the puppet is or used to be made out of the last 
com cut* In many districts of Saxony the last sheaf used 
to be adorned with ribbons and set upright so as to look 
like a man. It was then known as "the Old Man," 
and the young women brought it back in procession to 
the farm, singing as they went, " Now we are bringing the 
Old Man."' 

In these customs, as Mannhardt has remarked, the 
person who is called by the same name as the last sheaf 
and sits beside it on the last waggon is obviously identified 
with it ; he or she represents the corn-spirit which has been 
caught in the last sheaf; in othef words, the corn-spirit is 
represented in duplicate, by a human being and by a sheaf/ 
The identification of the person with the sheaf is made still 
clearer by the custom of wrapping up in the last sheaf the 
person who cuts or binds it. Thus at Hermsdorf in Silesia 
it used to be the regular custom to tie up in the last sheaf 
the woman who had bound it* At Weiden, in Bavaria, it 
is the cutter, not the binder, of the last sheaf who is tied 
up in it® Here the person wrapt up in the corn repre- 
sents the corn-spirit, exactly as a person wrapt in branches 
or leaves represents the tree-spirit." 

The last sheaf, designated as the Old Woman, is often 
distinguished from the other sheaves by its size and weight 
Thus in some villages of West Prussia the Old Woman is 
made twice as long and thick as a common sheaf, and a 
stone is fastened in the middle of it. Sometimes it is made 

1 \V. Mannhardt, op, cit. p. 323 sq, *' K. Haupt, Sagenbuch der Lamiiz^ 

i. p. 233, No. 277 note. 

* H. Prahn, **Glaubc und lirauch * \V. Mannhardt, «/. cit, p. 324. 

in dcr Mark Brandenburg," Zeitschrift * Ibid, p. 320. 

dei Vereim fiir Volkskuiuie^ i. (1891), • Ibid. p. 325. 

p. 1 86 sq. ' Sec vol. i. p. 209 sqq. 




SO heavy that a man can barely lift it.^ At Alt-Pillau, 
in Samland, eight or nine sheaves are often tied together 
to make the Old Woman, and the man who sets it up 
grumbles at its weight.^ At Itzgrund, in Saxe-Coburg, 
the last sheaf, called the Old Woman, is made large with 
the express intention of thereby securing a good crop next 
year.* Thus the custom of making the last sheaf un- 
usually large or heavy is a charm, working by sym- 
pathetic magic, to ensure a large and heavy crop at the 
following harvest 

In Denmark also the last sheaf is made larger than the 
others, and is called the Old Rye-woman or the Old Barley- 
woman. No one likes to bind it, because whoever does so 
will be sure, they think, to marry an old man or an old 
woman. Sometimes the last wheat-sheaf, called the Old 
Wheat-woman, is made up in human shape, with, head, 
arms, and legs, and being dressed in clothes is carried 
home on the last waggon, while the harvesters sit beside 
it drinking and huzzaing.* Of the person who binds the 
last sheaf it is said, " She or he is the Old Rye-woman." * 

In Scotland, when the last corn was cut after Hallowmas, 
the female figure made out of it was sometimes called the 
Carlin or Carline, that is, the Old Woman. But if cut 
before Hallowmas, it was called the Maiden ; if cut after 
sunset, it was called the Witch, being supposed to bring bad 
luck.* Among the Highlanders of Scotland the last corn 
cut at harvest is known either as the Old Wife {CailUacli) 
or as the Maiden ; on the whole the former name seems to 
prevail in the western and the latter in the central and 
eastern districts. Of the Maiden we shall speak presently ; 
here we are dealing with the Old Wife. In Bemera, on the 
west of Lewis, the harvest rejoicing goes by the name of the 
Old Wife {CailUach) from the last sheaf cut, whether in a 
township, farm, or croft. Where there are a number of 

' W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 324. 

^ Ibid, p. 324 sq, 

' Ibid, p. 325. The author of Die 
giStriegelU Rockcnphihsophie mentions 
(p. 891) the German superstition that 
the last sheaf should be made large in 
order that all the sheaves next year 
may be of the same size ; but he says 

nothing as to the shape or name of the 

^ Mannhardt, op, cit, p. 327. 

* Ibid. p. 328. 

• Jamieson, Dictionary of tht Scottish 
Languc^Cy s,v, " Maiden"; \V. Mann- 
hardt, M/thol, Forschungetty p. 326. 


crofts beside each other, there is always great rivalry as to 
who shall first finish reaping, and so have the Old Wife 
before his neighbours. Some people even go out on a clear 
night to reap their fields after their neighbours have retired 
to rest, in order that they may have the Old Wife first. 
More neighbourly habits, however, usually prevail, and as 
each finishes his own fields he goes to the help of another, 
till the whole crop is cut. The reaping is still done with the 
sickle. When the corn has been cut on all the crofts, the last 
sheaf is dressed up to look as like an old woman as possible. 
She wears a white cap, a dress, an apron, and a little shawl 
over the shoulders fastened with a sprig of heather. The 
apron is tucked up to form a pocket, which is stuffed with 
bread and cheese. A sickle, stuck in the string of the apron 
at the back, completes her equipment. This costume and 
outfit mean that the Old Wife is ready to bear a hand 
in the work of harvesting. At the feast which follows, the 
Old Wife is placed at the head of the table, and as the 
whisky goes round each of the company drinks to her, 
saying, " Here's to the one that has helped us with the 
harvest." When the table has been cleared away and 
dancing begins, one of the lads leads out the Old Wife and 
dances with her ; and if the night is fine the party will 
sometimes go out and march in a body to a considerable 
distance, singing harvest-songs, while one of them carries the 
Old Wife on his back. When the Harvest-Home is over, 
the Old Wife is shorn of her gear and used for ordinary 
purposes.^ In the island of Islay the last corn cut also goes 
by the name of the Old Wife {CatlU£u:h\ and when she has 
done her duty at harvest she is hung up on the wall and 
stays there till the time comes to plough the fields for the 
next year's crop. Then she is taken down, and on the first 
day the men go to plough she is divided among them by the 
mistress of the house. They take her in their pockets and 
give her to the horses to eat when they reach the field. This 
is supposed to secure good luck for the next harvest, and is 
understood to be the proper end of the Old Wife.* In 
Kintyre also the name of the Old Wife is given to the last 

^ K. C. Maclagan, "Notes on folk- Fbtk-lore^ vi. (1895), p. 149 sq, 
lore objects collected in Argylcshire," ' R. C. Maclagan, op. cit, p. 151. 





corn cut.^ On the shores of the beautiful Lx)ch Awe, a long 
sheet of water, winding among soft green hills, above which 
the giant Ben Cruachan towers bold and rugged on the 
north, the harvest custom is somewhat different. The name 
of the Old Wife {Cailleacfi) is here bestowed, not on the last 
corn cut, but on the reaper who is the last to finish. He 
bears it as a term of reproach, and is not privileged to reap 
the last ears left standing. On the contrary these are cut 
by the reaper who was the first to finish his spagh or strip 
(literally " claw "), and out of them is fashioned the Maiden, 
which is afterwards hung up, according to one statement, 
"for the purpose of preventing the death of horses in 
spring." * In Caithness the person who cuts the last sheaf 
is called Winter and retains the name till the next harvest' 
In North Pembrokeshire a tuft of the last corn cut, from six 
to twelve inches long, is plaited and goes by the name of the 
Hag {wrack) ; and quaint old customs used to be practised 
with it within the memory of many persons still alive. 
Great was the excitement among the reapers when the last 
patch of standing com was reached. All in turn threw 
their sickles at it, and the one who succeeded in cutting it 
received a jug of home-brewed ale. The Hag (wrach) was 
then hurriedly made and taken to a neighbouring farm, 
where the reapers were still busy at their work. This was 
generally done by the ploughman ; but he had to be very 
careful not to be observed by his neighbours, for if they saw 
him coming and had the least suspicion of his errand they 
would soon make him retrace his steps. Creeping stealthily 
up behind a fence he waited till the foreman of his neigh- 
bour's reapers was just opposite him and within easy reach. 
Then he suddenly threw the Hag over the fence and, if 
possible, upon the foreman's sickle, crying out 


" Boren y codais /, 
HiAfyr y delynais /, 
Ar ei gwar hip 

On that he took to his heels and made off as fast as he 
could run, and he was a lucky man if he escaped without 

^ R. C. Maclagan, op, cit, p. 149. 
* Ibid, p. 151 J^. 

' J. Macdonaki, Religion and Myth^ 
p. 141. 

jii THE WRACH 179 

being caught or cut by the flying sickles which the infuriated 
reapers hurled after him. In other cases the Hag was 
brought home to the farm-house by one of the reapers. He 
did his best to bring it home dry and without being observed ; 
but he was apt to be roughly handled by the people of 
the house, if they suspected his errand. Sometimes they 
stripped him of most of his clothes, sometimes they would 
drench him with water which had been carefully stored 
in buckets and pans for the purpose. If, however, he 
succeeded in bringing the Hag in dry and unobserved, the 
master of the house had to pay him a small fine ; or some- 
times a jug of beer " from the cask next to the wall," which 
seems to have commonly held the best beer, would be 
demanded by the bearer. The Hag was then carefully 
hung on a nail in the hall or elsewhere and kept there all 
the year. The custom of bringing in the Hag (wrach) into 
the house and hanging it up still exists at some farms in 
North Pembrokeshire, but the ancient ceremonies which have 
just been described are now discontinued.^ In County 
Antrim, down to a few years ago, when the sickle was finally 
expelled by the reaping machine, the few stalks of com left 
standing last on the field were plaited together ; then the 
reapers, blindfolded, threw their sickles at the plaited com, 
and whoever happened to cut it through took it home with 
him and put it over his door. This bunch of com was 
called the Carley * — probably the same word as Carlin. 

Similar customs are observed by Slavonic peoples. Thus 
in Poland the last sheaf is commonly called the Baba, that 
is, the Old Woman. " In the last sheaf," it is said, " sits the 
Baba." The sheaf itself is also called the Baba, and is 
sometimes composed of twelve smaller sheaves lashed to- 
gether.' In some parts of Bohemia the Baba, made out of 
the last sheaf, has the figure of a woman with a great straw 
hat. It is carried home on the last harvest -waggon and 
delivered, along with a garland, to the farmer by two girls. 
In binding the sheaves the women strive not to be last, for 

' D. Jenkyn Evans, in an article * Communicated by my friend Prof. 

entitled "The Harvest Customs of W. Ridgcway. 

Pembrokeshire," Pembroke County ' \V. Mannhardt, Mythohgisehe 

Guardian^ 7th December 1 895. Forschuitgen^ p. 328. 

i8o THE BABA chap. 

she who binds the last sheaf will have a child next year.^ 
The last sheaf is tied up with others into a large bundle, and 
a green branch is stuck on the top of it^ Sometimes the 
harvesters call out to the woman who binds the last sheaf, 
** She has the Baba," or " She is the Baba." She has then 
to make a puppet, sometimes in female, sometimes in male 
form, out of the corn ; the puppet is occasionally dressed 
with clothes, often with flowers and ribbons only. The 
cutter of the last stalks, as well as the binder of the last ; 

sheaf, was also called Baba ; and a doll, called the Harvest- \ 

woman, was made out of the last sheaf and adorned with 
ribbons. The oldest reaper had to dance, first with this doll, 
and then with the farmer's wife.* In the district of Cracow, 
when a man binds the last sheaf, they say, " The Grandfather 
is sitting in it " ; when a woman binds it, they say, " The Baba 
is sitting in it," and the woman herself is wrapt up in the 
sheaf, so that only her head projects out of it Thus en- 
cased in the sheaf, she is carried on the last harvest-waggon 
to the house, where she is drenched with water by the whole 
family. She remains in the sheaf till the dance is over, and 
for a year she retains the name of Baba.^ 

In Lithuania the name for the last sheaf is Boba (Old 
Woman), answering to the Polish name Baba. The Boba is 
said to sit in the com which is left standing last^ The 
person who binds the last sheaf or digs the last potato is the 
subject of much banter, and receives and long retains the , 
name of the Old Rye-woman or the Old Potato-woman.* 
The last sheaf — the Boba — is made into the form of a 
woman, carried solemnly through the village on the last 
harvest-waggon, and drenched with water at the farmer's 
house ; then every one dances with it.^ 

In Russia also the last sheaf is often shaped and dressed 
as a woman, and carried with dance and song to the farm- 
house. Out of the last sheaf the Bulgarians make a doll 
which they call the Corn-queen or Corn-mother ; it is dressed 
in a woman's shirt, carried round the village, and then thrown 
into the river in order to secure plenty of rain and dew for 

> W. Mannhardl, op, cU, p. 328. « /bid, p. 328 sq. ^ /hid. p. 329. 
« /l^id, p. 330. * /bid. • /bid, p. 331. * J^id. 


the next year's crop. Or it is burned and the ashes strewn 
on the fields, doubtless to fertilise them.^ The name Queen, 
as applied to the last sheaf, has its analogies in Northern 
Europe. Thus Brand quotes from Hutchinson's History of 
Northumberland the following : " I have seen, in some places, 
an image apparelled in great finery, crowned with flowers, a 
sheaf of corn placed under her arm, and a scycle in her hand, 
carried out of the village in the morning of the conclusive 
reaping day, with music and much clamour of the reapers, 
into the field, where it stands fixed on a pole all day, and 
when the reaping is done, is brought home in like manner. 
This they call the Harvest Queen, and it represents the 
Roman Ceres." * From Cambridge also Dr. E. D. Clarke 
reported that " at the Hawkie [harvest-home], as it is called, 
I have seen a clown dressed in woman's clothes, having his 
face painted, his head decorated with ears of com, and bear- 
ing about him other symbols of Ceres, carried in a waggon, 
with great pomp and loud shouts, through the streets, the 
horses being covered with white sheets : and when I inquired 
the meaning of the ceremony, was answered by the people, 
that they were drawing the Harvest Queen." • 

Often customs of this sort are practised, not on the 
harvest -field, but on the threshing-floor. The spirit of the 
com, fleeing before the reapers as they cut down the ripe 
grain, quits the reaped com and takes refuge in the, barn, 
where it appears in the last sheaf threshed, either to perish 
under the blows of the flail or to flee thence to the still un- 
threshed corn of a neighbouring farm.* Thus the last corn 
to be threshed is called the Mother-Corn or the Old Woman. 
Sometimes the person who gives the last stroke with the 
flail is called the Old Woman, and is wrapt in the straw of 
the last sheaf, or has a bundle of straw fastened on his back. 
Whether wrapt in the straw or carrying it on his back, he is 
carted through the village amid general laughter. In some 
districts of Bavaria, Thiiringen, etc., the man who threshes 
the last sheaf is said to have the Old Woman or the Old 

> W. Mannhardt, op. ciL p. 332. Bohn's ed. 

* Hutchinson, History of Northum- ' Quoted by Brand, op, cii, ii. 22. 

berland^ ii. ad fintm^ 17, quoted by * W. Mannhardt, Mythol, Forsch, 

Brand, Popular AntiquUUsy ii. 20, p. 333 sq. 


Corn-woman ; he is tied up in straw, carried or carted about 
the village, and set down at last on the dunghill, or taken to 
the threshing-floor of a neighbouring farmer who has not 
finished his threshing.^ Sometimes in Upper and Middle \ 
Franken a dumpling, baked in the shape of an old woman, [ 
is set before him ; he is thus said to get the Old Woman.* \ 
In Poland the man who gives the last stroke at threshing is \ 

called Baba (Old Woman) ; he is wrapt in corn and wheeled 
through the village.' Sometimes in Lithuania the last sheaf i ^ 
is not threshed, but is fashioned into female shape and ; 
carried to the bam of a neighbour who has not finished his I 
threshing.* In some parts of Sweden, when a stranger 
woman appears on the threshing-floor, a flail is put round 
her body, stalks of com are wound round her neck, a crown j 
of ears is placed on her head, and the threshers call out, 
" Behold the Com-womari." Here the stranger woman, thus 
suddenly appearing, is taken to be the corn-spirit who has 
just been expelled by the flails from the corn-stalks.* In 
other cases the farmer's wife represents the com-spirit 
Thus in the Commune of Salign^, Canton de Poiret (Vendte), 
the farmer's wife, along with the last sheaf, is tied up in a 
sheet, placed on a litter, and carried to the threshing machine, 
under which she is shoved. Then the woman is drawn out 
and the sheaf is threshed by itself, but the woman is tossed 
in the sheet, as if she were being winnowed.* It would be 
impossible to express more clearly the identification of the 
woman with the corn than by this graphic imitation of 
threshing and winnowing her. 

In these customs the spirit of the ripe corn is r^arded 
as old, or at least as of mature age. Hence the names of 
Mother, Grandmother, Old Woman, and so forth. But in 
other cases the com-spirit is conceived as young, sometimes 
as a child who is separated from its mother by the stroke of 
the sickle. This last view appears in the Polish custoi.i of 
calling out to the man who cuts the last handful of com, 
" You have cut the navel-string."^ In some districts of West 

* W. Mannhardt, op. a'f, p. 334. * Ibid, p. 336. * Ibid, p. 336. 

* fiaz'aria^ iMtuUi' und Volkskundi * Ibid, p. 336 ; Baumkulius^ p. 612. 
des Koiiifrrtuhs Bayem, ill. 344, 969. "^ W. Mannhardt, Die Korndiimotten^ 

^ \V. Mannhardt, op, cit, p. 334. p. 28. 





Prussia the figure made out of the last sheaf is called the 
Bastard, and a boy is wrapt up in it. The woman who 
binds the last sheaf and represents the Corn-mother is told 
that she is about to be brought to bed ; she cries like a 
woman in travail, and an old woman in the character of 
grandmother acts as midwife. At last a cry is raised that 
the child is bom ; whereupon the boy who is tied up in the 
sheaf whimpers and squalls like an infant. The grand- 
mother wraps a sack, in imitation of swaddling bands, round 
the pretended baby, who is carried joyfully to the barn, lest he 
catch cold in the open air.^ In other parts of North Ger- 
many the last sheaf, or the puppet made out of it, is called 
the Child, the Harvest-Child, and so on. In the North of 
England the last handful of com was cut by the prettiest 
girl and dressed up as the Kem-Baby or Harvest-Doll ; it 
was brought home to music, set up in a conspicuous place at 
the harvest-supper, and generally kept in the parlour for the 
rest of the year. The girl who cut it was the Harvest- 
Queen.^ In the North Riding of Yorkshire the last sheaf 
gathered in is called the Mell- sheaf, and the expression 
" We've gotten wer mell " is as much as to say " The harvest is 
finished." Formerly a Mell-doll was made out of a sheaf of 
corn, decked with flowers, arrayed in the costume of a reaper, 
and carried with music and dancing to the scene of the 
harvest-supper, which also went by the name of the Mell.* 

* \V. Mannhardt, Lc, 

* Ibid, ; Henderson, Folk'hre of the 
Northern Cottnties^ p. 87 ; Brand, 
Popular Antiquities^ ii. 20, Bohn*s 
ed. ; Chanil)ers's Book of Days, ii. 
377 sq. Cp. •• Notes on Harvest Cus- 
toms," Folk-lore Journal, vii. (1889), 
p. 50. Dr. Murrayof the AVii'^//^/rVA 
Dictionary kindly informs me that the 
popular etymology which identifies 
** kern ** or •' kirn " in this sense with 
** com " is entirely mistaken ; and that 
••baby*' or "babbie** in the same 
phrase means only **dolI/* not "in- 
fant.** He writes : ** Kirn -babbie 
does not mean * corn - baby,* but 
merely Kim -doll, hart'est - home doll, 
Bab, babbie was e\'en in my youth the 
regular name for *doll' in the district, 
as it was formerly in England ; the 

only woman who sold dolls in Hawick 
early in the century, and whose toy- 
shop all bairns knew, was known as 
• Betty o* the Babs,' Betty of the dolls.** 
3 M. C. F. Morris, Y'orkshire Folk- 
talk, pp. 212-214; W. Henderson, 
Folk-lore if the Northern Counties of 
England, p. 88 sq, ; Brand, Popular 
Antiquities, ii. 27 sqq. The sheaf 
out of which the Mell-duU was made 
was no doubt the Mell-sheaf, though 
this is not expressly said. Dr. Joseph 
Wright, editor of the English Dialect 
Dictionary, kindly informs me that the 
word mell is well known in these senses 
in all the northern counties of England 
down to Cheshire. He tells me that 
the proposals to connect mell with 
** meal ** or with ** maiden ** (through 
a form like the German Miidel) are 

1 84 



In Kent the Ivy Girl is, or u^cu to be, " a figure composed 
of some of the best corn the field produces, and made as well 
as they can into a human shape ; this is afterwards curiously 
dressed by the women, and adorned with paper trimmings, 
cut to resemble a cap, ruffles, handkerchief, etc., of the finest 
lace. It is brought home with the last load of com from the 
field upon the waggon, and they suppose entitles them to a 
supper at the expense of the employer." ^ In the neighbour- 
hood of Balquhidder, Perthshire, the last handful of com is 
cut by the youngest girl on the field, and is made into the 
rude form of a female doll, clad in a paper dress, and decked 
with ribbons. It is called the Maiden, and is kept in the 
farmhouse, generally above the chimney, for a good while, 
sometimes till the Maiden of the next year is brought in. 
The writer of this book witnessed the ceremony of cutting 
the Maiden at Balquhidder in September 1888.' A lady 
friend * informs me that as a young girl she cut the Maiden 
several times at the request of the reapers In the neighbour- 
hood of Perth. The name of the Maiden was given to the 
last handful of standing com ; a reaper held the top of the 
bunch while she cut it Afterwards the bunch was -plaited, 
decked with ribbons, and hung up in a conspicuous place on 
the wall of the kitchen till the next Maiden was brought in. 
The harvest-supper in this neighbourhood was also called 
the Maiden ; the reapers danced at it In the Highland 
district of Lxxhaber dancing and merry-making on the last 
night of harvest used to be universal and are still generally 
observed. Here, we are told, the festivity without the 
Maiden would be like a wedding without the bride. The 
Maiden is carried home with tumultuous rejoicing, and after 
being suitably decorated is hung up in the barn, where the 
dancing usually takes place. When supper is over, one 

ixuulmissible. When he wrote to me 
(7th November 1899) his materials on 
this subject were not yet sifted, but he 
added : " When I come to weigh all 
the evidence connected with nuU^ I 
shall probably find that the 6rst mean- 
ing of the word is ' the last sheaf cut 
at harvest/ and that it was put up in 
the form of a mdi to be thrown at for 
a prize, and that null originally means 
a mallet ; throughout all the north a 

mallet is always called a mell.'* 

^ Brand, op. ci/. iL 21 sf. 

« Folk'lore Journal^ vi. (i888), p. 
268 sq, 

' Mrs. Macalister, wife of Professor 
Alexander Macalister, Cambridge. 
Her recollections refer especially to 
the neighbourhood of Glen Farg, some 
ten or twelve miles to the south of 





of the company, generally the oldest man present, drinks 
a glass of whisky, after turning to the suspended sheaf 
and saying, " Here's to the Maiden." The company follow 
his example, each in turn drinking to the Maiden. Then 
the dancing begins.^ On some farms on the Gareloch, in 
Dumbartonshire, about seventy years ago the last handful of 
standing corn was called the Maiden. It was divided in two, 
plaited, and then cut with the sickle by a girl, who, it was 
thought, would be lucky and would soon be married. When 
it was cut the reapers gathered together and threw their 
sickles in the air. The Maiden was dressed with ribbons 
and hung in the kitchen near the roof, where it was kept for 
several years with the date attached. Sometimes five or six 
Maidens might be seen hanging at once on hooks. The 
harvest-supper was called the Kirn.* In other farms on the 
Gareloch the last handful of corn was called the Maidenhead 
or the Head ; it was neatly plaited, sometimes decked with 
ribbons, and hung in the kitchen for a year, when the grain 
was given to the poultry.* In the island of Mull and some 
parts of the mainland of Argyleshire the last handful of com 
cut is called the Maiden {Maigltdean-Bhuana), Near Ardri- 
shaig, in Argyleshire, the Maiden is made up in a fanciful 
three-cornered shape, decorated with ribbons, and hung from 
a nail on the wall.* In the North of Scotland the Maiden 
is kept till Christmas morning, and then divided among the 
cattle "to make them thrive all the year round.*** In 
Aberdeenshire also the last sheaf (called the clyack sheaf) 
was formerly cut, as it is still cut at Balquhidder, by the 
youngest girl on the field ; then it was dressed in woman*s 
clothes, carried home in triumph, and kept till Christmas or 
New Year's morning, when it was given to a mare in foal, or, 
failing such, to the oldest cow.* According to another 
account of the Aberdeenshire custom the sheaf in question is 

^ J. Macdonald, Religion and Afyth^ 
p. 141 sq. 

' From information supplied by 
Archie Leitch, late gardener at Row- 
more, Garelochhead. The Kim was 
the name of the harvest festivity in the 
south of Scotland also. See Lockhart^s 
Life 0/ Scott, ii. 184 (first edition); 
Early Letters of Thomas Carlyle^ ed. 

Norton, ii. 325 sq, 

' Communicated hy Mr. Macfiurlane 
of Faslane, Gareloch. 

* R. C. Maclagan, in Folk-lore, vi. 

(1895). PP- M9. 151- 

* Jamieson, Dictionary of the Scottish 

language, s.v, •* Maiden." 

* \V. Gregor, in Ranudes Traditions 
populaires, iii. (1 888), p. 533 (485 B); 




kept in the house until the first mare foals. It is then taken 
down and presented to the mare as its first food. " The 
neglect of this would have untoward effects upon the foal, 
and disastrous consequences upon farm operations generally 
for the season."^ In Fifeshire the last handful of corn, 
known as the Maiden, is cut by a young girl and made into 
the riide figure of a doll, tied with ribbons, by which it is 
hung on the wall of the farm-kitchen till the next spring.* 

A somewhat maturer but still youthful age is assigned to 
the corn-spirit by the appellations of Bride, Oats-bride, and 
Wheat-bride, which in Germany and Scotland are sometimes 
bestowed both on the last sheaf and on the woman who binds 
it* At wheat-harvest near Miiglitz, in Moravia, a small 
portion of the wheat is left standing after all the rest has 
been cut. This remnant is then cut, amid the rejoicing of 
the reapers, by a young girl who wears a wreath of wheaten 
ears on her head and goes by the name of the Wheat-bride. 
It is supposed that she will be a real bride that same year.* 
In the upland valley of Alpach, in North Tyrol, the person 
who brings the last sheaf into the granary is said to have 
the Wheat-bride or the Rye-bride according to the crop, 
and is received with great demonstrations of respect and 
rejoicing. The people of the farm go out to meet him, bells 
are rung, and refreshments offered to him on a tray.* Some- 
times the idea implied in these names is worked out more 
fully by representing the productive powers of vegetation as 
bride and bridegroom. Thus in some parts of Germany a 
man and woman dressed in straw and called the Oats-wife 
and the Oats-man, or the Oats-bride and the Oats-bridegroom, 
dance at the harvest festival ; then the corn-stalks are plucked 
from their bodies till they stand as bare as a stubble field. 

id. , Folk-lore of the North-East of Scot- 
land^ p. 182. An old Scottish name for 
the Maiden (autumnalis nymphuld) was 
Kapegyme. Sec Fordun, Scotichron, 
ii. 418, quoted in Jamieson*s Diet, 
of the Scottish Loftgitage^ s.v. ** Rape- 

' J. Macdonald, Religion and Myth, 
p. 140 sq, 

' Folk-lore Journal , vii. (1889), p. 
51 ; The Quarterly Review, clxxii. 
(1891), p. 195. 

' W. Mannhardt, Die Korndiimotun, 
p. 30; Folk-lore Journal, vii. (1889), 
p. 50. 

* W. Muller, Beitriige tur Volks- 
kunde der Deutschett in Mdhren, p. 


« J. E. Waldfreund. •• Volksge- 

brauche und Alierglaube in Tirol und 

dcm Salzburger Gebirg," Zcitschrift 

fiir deutsfhe Mythologie und Sitten- 

kunde, iii. (1855), p. 340. 



In Silesia, the woman who binds the last sheaf is called the 
Wheat-bride or the Oats-bride. With the harvest crown on 
her head, a bridegroom by her side, and attended by brides- 
maids, she is brought to the farmhouse with all the solemnity 
of a wedding procession.^ 

In these last instances the corn-spirit is personified in 
double form as male and female. But sometimes the spirit 
appears in a double female form as both old and young, 
corresponding exactly to the Greek Demeter and Proserpine, 
if my interpretation of these goddesses is right. We have 
seen that in Scotland, especially among the Gaelic-speaking 
population, the last corn cut is sometimes called the Old 
Wife and sometimes the Maiden. Now there are parts of 
Scotland in which both an Old Wife {Cailleach) and a Maiden 
are cut at harvest As the accounts of this custom are not 
quite clear and consistent, it may be well to give them first 
in the words of Dr. R. C. Maclagan, who has collected them. 
"Nicholson in his Gaelic Proverbs ^ p. 415, says that one 
account he got made it a competition between the reapers of 
two rigs, the first done getting the Maiden, the last the Old 
Wife. The better version, he says, made it a competition 
between neighbouring crofters, and the man who had his 
harvest done first sent a handful of corn, called the Cailleach, 
to his neighbour, who passed it on till it landed with him 
who was last. That man's penalty was to provide for the 
dearth of the township, gart d bliaiUy in the ensuing season. 
Nicholson then describes the Maiden as the last handful cut 
on a farm or croft, and says it was given as a * Sainnsecd 
(Hansel) to the horses first day of ploughing.* It was meant 
as a symbol that the harvest had been secured, and to ward 
off the fairies, representatives of the ethereal and unsubstantial, 
till the time came to provide for a new crop." ^ Again, the 
Rev. Mr. Campbell of Kilchrenan, on Loch Awe, furnished 
Dr. Maclagan with the following account of the Highland 
customs at harvest. The recollections of Mrs. MacCorquodale, 
who now resides at Kilchrenan, refer to the customs practised 

* \^ .y\vtiv^\^x^\^ Die Kortidamonen^ * R. C. Maclagan, ** Notes on folk- 

p. 30 ; Sommer, Sagen^ Mdrchen und lore objects collccicd in Argyleshire,** 

Cebriiuche aus Sathsen tind Thiirittgeti^ Folk-lore^ vi. (1895), P* '5** 
p. 160 sq. 



more than fifty years ago in the wild and gloomy valley of 
Glencoe, infamous in history for the treacherous massacre 
perpetrated there by the Government troops in 1692. " Mrs. | 

MacCorquodale says that the rivalry was for the Maiden, and F 

for the privilege she gave of sending the Cailleach to the • 

next neighbour. The Maiden was represented by the last 
stalks reaped ; the Cailleach by a handful taken at random 
from the field, perhaps the last rig of the reaper last to finish. 
The Cailleach was not dressed but carried after binding to \ 

the neighbour's field. The Maiden was cut in the following ■ 

manner. All the reapers gathered round her and kept a -. 

short distance from her. They then threw their hooks j 

[sickles] at her. The person successful in cutting her down 
in this manner was the man whose possession she became. 
Mrs. MacCorquodale understood that the man of a township 
who got the Cailleach finally was supposed to be doomed to 
poverty for his want of energy. (Gaelic : treubhantas — 

" A sample of the toast to the Cailleach at the harvest 
entertainment was as follows : ' The Cailleach is with . . . 
and is now with (me) since I was the last I drink to her 
health. Since she assisted me in harvest, it is likely that it 
is with me she will abide during the winter/ In explaining 
the above toast Mr. Campbell says that it signifies that the 
Cailleach is always with agriculturists. ' She has been with 
others before and is now with me (the proposer of the toast). 
Though I did my best to avoid her I welcome her as my 
assistant, and am prepared to entertain her during the winter.* 
Another form of the toast was as follows : * To your health, 
good wife, who for harvest has come to help us, and if I live 
rU try to support you when winter comes.' 

" John MacCorquodale, Kilchrenan, says that at Crian- 
larich in Strath Fillan they make a Cailleach of sticks and 
a turnip, old clothes and a pipe. In this case the effigy 
passed in succession to seven farms, which he mentioned, and 
finally settled with an innkeeper. The list suggested that 
the upper farms stood a bad chance, and perhaps that a 
prosperous innkeeper could more easily bear up against the 
reproach and loss (?) of supporting the Cailleach. Duncan 
Maclntyre, Kilchrenan, says that in one case where the last 



field to be reaped was the most fertile land on the farm, the 
corn first cut on it, which was taken near the edge, was 
reserved to make a Cailleach, should the owner be so happy 
as to be able to pass her on to his neighbour. The last 
blades cut were generally in the middle or best part of the 
field. These in any event became the Maiden." Lastly, 
■ Dr. Maclagan observes that " having directed the attention of 
Miss Kerr, Port Charlotte, Islay, to the practice of having 
two different bunches on the mainland of Argyle, she informs 
me that in Islay and Kintyre the last handful is the Cailleach, 
and they have no Maiden. The same is the custom in Ber- 
nara and other parts of the Western Isles, while in Mull the 
last handful is the Maiden, and they have no Cailleach. In 
North Uist the habit still prevails of putting the Cailleach 
over-night among the standing corn of lazy crofters." ^ 

The general rule to which these various accounts point 
seems to be that, where both a Maiden and an Old Wife are 
fashioned out of the reaped com at harvest, the Maiden is 
always made out of the last stalks left standing and is kept 
by the farmer on whose land it was cut ; while the Old Wife 
is made out of other stalks, sometimes out of the first stalks 
cut, and is regularly passed on to a laggard farmer who 
happens to be still reaping after his brisker neighbour has 
cut all his corn. Thus while each farmer keeps his own 
Maiden, as the -embodiment of the young and fruitful spirit 
of the com, he passes on the Old Wife as soon as he can to 
a neighbour, and so the old lady may make the round of all 
the farms in the district before she finds a place to lay her 
venerable head. The farmer with whom she finally takes 
up her abode is of course the one who has been the last of 
all the countryside to finish reaping his crops, and thus the 
distinction of entertaining her is rather an invidious one. 
Similarly we saw that in Pembrokeshire, where the last com 
cut is called not the Maiden but the Hag, she is passed on 
hastily to a neighbour who is still at work in his fields and 
who receives his aged visitor with anything but a transport 
of joy. If the Old Wife represents the com-spirit of the 
past year, as she probably does wherever she is contrasted 

* R. C. Maclagan, ** Corn-maiden in .-Vrgyleshire," Folk-fore^ vii. (1S96), 
p. 78 Si/. 




with and opposed to a Maiden, it is natural enough that 
her faded charms should have less attractions for the husband- 
man than the buxom form of her daughter, who may be ex- 
pected to become in her turn the mother of the golden grain 
when the revolving year has brought round another autumn. 
The harvest customs just described are strikingly analo- 
gous to the spring customs which we reviewed in the first 
chapter, (i) As in the spring customs the tree-spirit is 
represented both by a tree and by a person,^ so in the harvest 
customs the corn-spirit is represented both by the last sheaf 
and by the person who cuts or binds or threshes it. The 
equivalence of the person to the sheaf is shown by giving him 
or her the same name as the sheaf ; by wrapping him or her 
in it ; and by the rule observed in some places, that when the 
sheaf is called the Mother, it must be made up into human shape 
by the oldest married woman, but that when it is called the 
Maiden, it must be cut by the youngest girl.* Here the age of 
the personal representative of the corn-spirit corresponds with 
that of the supposed age of the corn-spirit, just as the human 
victims offered by the Mexicans to promote the growth of 
the maize varied with the age of the maize.* For in the 
Mexican, as in the European, custom the human beings were 
probably representatives of the corn-spirit rather than victims 
offered to it. (2) Again, the same fertilising influence 
which the tree-spirit is supposed to exert over vegetation, 
cattle, and even women * is ascribed to the corn-spirit Thus, 
its supposed influence on vegetation is shown by the practice 
of taking some of the grain of the last sheaf (in which the 
corn-spirit is regularly supposed to be present), and scattering 
it among the young com in spring.* Its influence on animals 
is shown by giving the last sheaf to the first mare that foals, 
to horses at the first ploughing, or to cattle at Christmas 
to make them thrive.* Lastly, its influence on women is 
indicated by the custom of delivering the Mother-sheaf, 
made into the likeness of a pregnant woman, to the farmer's 
wife ; '* by the belief that the woman who binds the last sheaf 

* See vol. i. p. 207 sqq. 

« Aljovc, pp. 171, 174, 175, 176, 
180, 181, 182, 184, 185, 186. 

' Above, p. 143. 

* See vol. i. p. 188 sqq, 

* Above, p. 172. 

* Above, pp. 172, 177 (cp. 178), 
185 sq. 

"* Sec above, p. 173. 





will have a child next year;^ perhaps, too, by the idea that 
the person who gets it will soon be married.^ 

Plainly, therefore, these spring and harvest customs are 
based on the same ancient modes of thought, and form parts 
of the same primitive heathendom, which was doubtless prac- 
tised by our forefathers long before the dawn of history, as it is 
practised to this day by many of their descendants. Amongst 
the marks of a primitive ritual we may note the following : — 

1. No special class of persons is set apart for the per- 
formance of the rites ; in other words, there are no priests. 
The rites may be performed by any one, as occasion demands. 

2. No special places are set apart for the performance 
of the rites ; in other words, there are no temples. The 
rites may be performed anywhere, as occasion demands. 

3. Spirits, not gods, are recognised. {a) As distin- 
guished from gods, spirits are restricted in their operations 
to definite departments of nature. Their names are general, 
not proper. Their attributes are generic, rather than indi- 
vidual ; in other words, there is an indefinite number of 
spirits of each class, and the individuals of a class are all 
much alike ; they have no definitely marked individuality ; 
no accepted traditions are current as to their origin, life, ad- 
ventures, and character, {b) On the other hand gods, as 
distinguished from spirits, are not restricted to definite de- 
partments of nature. It is true that there is generally some 
one department over which they preside as their special 
province ; but they are not rigorously confined to it ; they 
can exert their power for good or evil in many other spheres 
of nature and life. Again, they bear individual or proper 
names, such as Ceres, Proserpine, Bacchus ; and their in- 
dividual characters and histories are fixed by current myths 
and the representations of art 

4. The rites are magical rather than propitiatory. 
In other words, the desired objects are attained, not by 
propitiating the favour of divine beings through sacrifice, 
prayer, and praise, but by ceremonies which, as has been 
explained,* are believed to influence the course of nature 

1 Above, p. I79jy. ; cp. Kuhn, Wrx/- - Alx)vc, pp. 174, 176, 185, 186. 

fiilische Sagett^ Gebrduche ttnd Mdrchen^ 
ii. p. 185, § 516. ^ Vol, L p. 9 sgq. 


directly through a physical sympathy or resemblance between 
the rite and the effect which it is the intention of the rite to 

Judged by these tests, the spring and harvest customs of 
our European peasantry deserve to rank as primitive. For 
no special class of persons and no special places are set ex- 
clusively apart for their performance ; they may be performed ' 
by any one, master or man, mistress or maid, boy or girl ; 
they are practised, not in temples or churches, but in the \ 
woods and meadows, beside brooks, in bams, on harvest | 
fields and cottage floors. The supernatural beings whose 1 
existence is taken for granted in them are spirits rather than | 
deities ; their functions are limited to certain well-defined 
departments of nature; their names are general, like the j 
Barley-mother, the Old Woman, the Maiden, not proper j 
names like Ceres, Proserpine, Bacchus. Their generic attri- | 
butes are known, but their individual histories and characters I 
are not the subject of myths. For they exist in classes 
rather than as individuals, and the members of each class are 
indistinguishable. For example, every farm has its Corn- 
mother, or its Old Woman, or its Maiden ; but every Corn- 
mother is much like every other Corn-mother, and so with 
the Old Women and Maidens. Lastly, in these harvest, as 
in the spring, customs, the ritual is magical rather than pro- 
pitiatory. This is shown by throwing the Corn-mother into 
the river in order to secure rain and dew for the crops ; ^ 
by making the Old Woman heavy in order to get a heavy 
crop next year ; * by strewing grain from the last sheaf 
amongst the young crops in spring ; ' and giving the last 
sheaf to the cattle to make them thrive.* 

Further, the custom of keeping the puppet — the repre- 
sentative of the corn-spirit — till next harvest, is a charm to 
maintain the corn-spirit in life and activity throughout the 
year.* This is proved by a similar custom observed by the 

^ Above, p. 1 80 sq. 185 ; W. Mannhardt, Kornddmotun^ 

« Above D I7C j^ PP- 7» 26. Amongst the Wends the 

Aoove, p. 175 ^' last sheaf, made into a puppet and 

' Above, p. 172. called the Old Man, is hung in the 

4 AK««- «« ii>^ tfir r^ hall till next year's Old Man is brought 

Above, pp. 172, 185 sq. .^ ^^^ ^^^ Schulenburg, IVe^idiscAes 

* Above, pp. 174, 179, 183, 184, Volksthum, p. 147). 


ancient Peruvians, and thus described by the old Spanish 
historian Acosta. " They take a certain portion of the most 
fruitefull of the Mays [/>• maize] that growes in their farmes, 
the which they put in a certaine granary which they doe call 
Pirua^ with certaine ceremonies, watching three nightes ; they 
put this Mays in the richest garments they have, and beeing 
thus wrapped and dressed, they worship this Pirua, and hold 
it in great veneration, saying it is the mother of the mays of 
their inheritances, and that by this means the mays augments 
and is preserved. In this moneth [the sixth month, answer- 
ing to May] they make a particular sacrifice, and the witches 
demaund of this Pirua, if it hath strength sufficient to con- 
tinue untill the next yeare ; and if it answers no, then they 
carry this Mays to the farme to bume, whence they brought 
it, according to every man's power ; then they make another 
Pirua^ with the same ceremonies, saying that they renue it, 
to the end the seede of Mays may not perish, and if it 
answers that it hath force sufficient to last longer, they leave 
it untill the next yeare. This foolish vanity continueth to 
this day, and it is very common amongest the Indians to 
have these Piruasr ^ There seems to be some error in this 
description of the custom. Probably it was the dressed-up 
bunch of maize, not the granary {Pirua\ which was wor- 
shipped by the Peruvians and regarded as the Mother of the 
Maize. This is confirmed by what we know of the Peruvian 
custom from another source. The Peruvians, we are told, 
believed all useful plants to be animated by a divine being 
who causes their growth. According to the particular plant, 
these divine beings were called the Maize-mother {Zara- 
inamd)^ the Quinoa-mother {Quinoa'ntama\ the Cocoa-mother 
{Coca-mama)^ and the Potato-mother {Axo-mama). Figures 
of these divine mothers were made respectively of ears of 
maize and leaves of the quinoa and cocoa plants ; they were 
dressed in women's clothes and worshipped. Thus the 

In Inverness and Sutherland the Acosta, Natural and Moral His- 

Maiden is kept till the next harvest tory of the Indies^ bk. v. ch. 28, vol. ii. 

(Folk-lort Journal^ vii. (1889), pp. 50, p. 374 (Hakluyt Society, x88o). The 

53 ^O* Q^> K^yiTiflVestfdliscke Sttgen^ original Spanish text of Acosta*s work 

Gebratiche uttd Aldrchen^ ii. pp. i8x, was reprinted in a convenient form at 

185, §§ 501, 517. Madrid in 1894. See vol. ii. p. 1x7 

of that edition. 





Maize-mother was represented by a puppet made of stalks of 
maize, dressed in full female attire ; and the Indians believed 
that " as mother, it had the power of producing and giving 
birth to much maize." ^ Probably, therefore, Acosta mis- 
understood his informant, and the Mother of the Maize which 
he describes was not the granary {Pirua) but the bunch of 
maize dressed in rich vestments. The Peruvian Mother of 
the Maize, like the harvest-Maiden at Balquhidder, was kept 
for a year in order that by her means the com might grow 
and multiply. But lest her strength might not suffice to last 
till the next harvest, she was asked in the course of the 
year how she felt, and if she answered that she felt weak, she 
was burned and a fresh Mother of the Maize made, ^^ to the 
end the scede of Mays may not perish." Here, it may be 
observed, we have a strong confirmation of the explanation 
already given of the custom of killing the god, both periodic- 
ally and occasionally. The Mother of the Maize was 
allowed, as a rule, to live through a year, that being the 
period during which her strength might reasonably be sup- 
posed to last unimpaired ; but on any symptom of her 
strength failing she was put to death and a fresh and vigorous 
Mother of the Maize took her place, lest the maize which 
depended on her for its existence should languish and decay. 
Hardly less clearly does the same train of thought come 
out in the harvest customs formerly observed by the Zapotecs 
of Mexico. At harvest the priests, attended by the nobles 
and people, went in procession to the maize fields, where they 
picked out the largest and finest sheaf. This they took 
with great ceremony to the town or village, and placed it in 
the temple upon an altar adorned with wild flowers. After 
sacrificing to the harvest god, the priests carefully wrapped 
up the sheaf in fine linen and kept it till seed-time. Then 
the priests and nobles met again at the temple, one of them 
bringing the skin of a wild beast, elaborately ornamented, in 
which the linen cloth containing the sheaf was enveloped. 


* W. Mannhardt, MythoL Forsck. 
p. 342 sq, Mannhardt's authority is a 
Spanish tract {Carta p€Uforal de exorta- 
cion € instrufcion contra las idolatrias de 
hi Ittdios del arfobispado de Lima) by 
Pedro de Villagomez, Archbishop of 

Lima, published in Lima in 1649, and 
communicated to Mannhardt by J. J. 
V. Tschadi. Compare E. J. Payne, HiS' 
tory cf the New IVorld called America, 
i. 414 sg. 


< The sheaf was then carried once more in procession to the 

field from which it had been taken. Here a small cavity or 
subterranean chamber had been prepared, in which the 
precious sheaf was deposited, wrapt in its various envelopes. 
After sacrifice had been offered to the gods of the fields for 
an abundant crop the chamber was closed and covered over 
with earth. Immediately thereafter the sowing began. 
Finally, when the time of harvest drew near, the buried sheaf 
was solemnly disinterred by the priests, who distributed the 
grain to all who asked for it The packets of grain so dis- 
tributed were carefully preserved as talismans till the harvest.^ 
In these ceremonies, which continued to be annually cele- 
brated long after the Spanish conquest, the intention of keep- 
ing the finest sheaf buried in the maize field from seed-time 
to harvest was undoubtedly to quicken the growth of the 

In the Punjaub, to the east of the Jumna, when the 
cotton boles begin to burst, it is usual to select the largest 
plant in the field, sprinkle it with butter-milk and rice-water, 
and then bind to it pieces of cotton taken from the other 
plants of the field. This selected plant is called Sirdar or 
Bhogcddai^ that is " mother-cotton," from bhogla^ a name 
sometimes given to a large cotton-pod, and dai (for daiya\ 
^'a mother," and after it has been saluted, prayers are 
offered that the other plants may resemble it in the richness 
of their produce.* The conception of the corn-spirit as a 
bride seems to come out clearly in a ceremony still practised 
by the Berbers near Tangier, in Morocco. When the women 
assemble in the fields to weed the green barley or reap the 
crops, they take with them a straw figure dressed like a 
woman, and set it up among the corn. Suddenly a group 
of horsemen from a neighbouring village gallop up and carry 
off the straw puppet amid the screams and cries of the women. 
However, the ravished eflSgy is rescued by another band of 
mounted men, and after a struggle remains, more or less 
dishevelled, in the hands of the women. That this pretended 

^ Brasseur de liourbourg, Histoirt America^ >• 4x9 -^y* 
d€S Nations civilisJes du A/exii/ue et tic * H. ^f. Elliot, StippUmetital Chs' 

rAmirique CcntraU^ iii. 40 sqq. Com- sary of Terms used in the North-West- 

pare m/., iii. 505 sq,\ EX J. Payne, ern Prwimes^ edited by J. Beames, 

History of the New World called u 254. 


196 SOUL OF THE RICE chap. 

abduction is a mimic marriage appears from a Berber 
custom in accordance with which, at a real wedding, the 
bridegroom carries off his seemingly unwilling bride on horse- 
back, while she screams and pretends to summon her friends 
to her rescue. No fixed date is appointed for the simulated 
abduction of the straw woman from the barley-field, the time 
depends upon the state of the crops, but the day and hour 
are made public before the event. Each village used to prac- 
tise this mimic contest for possession of the straw woman, | « 
who probably represents the Barley Bride, but nowadays the j ' 
custom is growing obsolete.^ ^ 

If the reader still feels any doubts as to the original 
meaning of the harvest customs practised by our peasantry, 
these doubts may be dispelled by comparing the customs 
observed at the rice-harvest by the Malays and Dyaks of 
the East Indies. At harvest the Dyaks of Northern Borneo 
have a special feast, the object of which is " to secure the 
soul of the rice, which if not so detained, the produce of 
their farms would speedily rot and decay." The mode of 
securing the soul of the rice varies in different tribes. In 
the Quop district the ceremony is performed by the chief 
priest alone, first in the long broad verandah of the common 
house and afterwards in each separate family apartment As 
a preparation for the ceremony a bamboo altar, decorated 
with green boughs and red an€ white streamers, is erected 
in the verandah, and presents a very gay appearance. Here 
the people, old and young, assemble, the priestesses dressed 
in gorgeous array and the elder men wearing bright-coloured 
jackets and trousers of purple, yellow, or scarlet hue, while 
the young men and lads beat gpngs and drums. When the 
priest, with a bundle of charms in either hand, is observed 
to be gazing earnestly in the air at something invisible to 
common eyes, the band strikes up with redoubled energy, and 
the elderly men in the gay breeches begin to shriek and re- 
volve round the altar in the dance. Suddenly the priest starts 
up and makes a rush at the invisible object ; men run to 
him with white cloths, and as he shakes his charms over the 
cloths a few grains of rice fall into them. These grains are 

1 W. B. Harris, **The Berbers of Morocco, "/wrwo/ 4^ M^ Anthropological 
Institute^ xxvii. (1898), p. 68. 


] the soul of the rice ; they are carefully folded up in the 

cloths and laid at the foot of the altar. The same perform- 
ance is afterwards repeated in every family apartment. In 

; some tribes the soul of the rice is secured at midnight. Out- 

side the village a lofty altar is erected in an open space 
surrounded by the stately forms of the tropical palms. 
Huge bonfires cast a ruddy glow over the scene and light 
up the dusky but picturesque forms of the Dyaks as they 
move in slow and solemn dance round the altar, some 
bearing lighted tapers in their hands, others brass salvers 
with offerings of rice, others covered baskets, of which the 
contents are hidden from all but the initiated. The corner- 
posts of the altar are lofty bamboos, whose leafy tops are 
yet green and rustle in the wind ; and from one of them 
a long narrow streamer of white cloth hangs down. Suddenly 
elders and priests rush at this streamer, seize the end of it, 
and amid the crashing music of drums and gongs and the 
yells of the spectators begin dancing and swaying themselves 
backwards and forwards, and to and fro. A priest or elder 
leaps on the altar and shakes the tall bamboos violently 
with shouts of triumph, which are responded to by the 
swaying bodies of the men below ; and in the midst of this 
excitement small stones, bunches of hair, and grains of rice 
fall at the feet of the dancers, and are carefully picked up 
by watchful attendants. These grains of rice are the soul 
of the crop. At sowing-time some of this soul of the rice is 
planted with the other seeds, '* and is thus propagated and 
communicated." ^ 

The same need of securing the soul of the rice, if the 
crop is to thrive, is keenly felt by the Karens of Burma. 
When a rice-field does not flourish, they suppose that the 
soul {kelali) of the rice is in some way detained from the rice. 
If the soul cannot be called back, the crop will fail. The 
following formula is used in recalling the kelati (soul) of the 
rice : " O come, xxct-kelah, come ! Come to the field. Come 
to the rice. With seed of each gender, come. Come from 
the river Kho, come from the river Kaw; from the place 

* Spenser St. John, Life in the Ling Kolh's Xa/iirs of Sarawak and 
Forests of the Far East^^ i. 187, 192 British North Borneo^ i. 412-414. 
sqq, ; \V. Chalmers, quoted in H. 




where they meet, come. Come from the West, come from 
the East. From the throat of the bird, from the maw of 
the ape, from the throat of the elephant. Come from the 
sources of rivers and their mouths. Come from the country 
of the Shan and Burman. From the distant kingdoms come. 
From all granaries come. O nc^-kelahy come to the rice." ^ 

The Corn -mother of our European peasants has her 
match in the Rice -mother of the Minangkabauers of 
Sumatra. The Minangkabauers definitely attribute a soul 
to rice, and will sometimes assert that rice pounded in the 
usual way tastes better than rice ground in a mill, because 
in the mill the body of the rice was so bruised and battered 
that the soul has fled from it. Like the Javanese they 
think that the rice is under the special guardianship of a 
female spirit called Saning Sari, who is conceived as so 
closely knit up with the plant that the rice often goes by 
her name, as with the Romans the corn might be called 
Ceres. In particular Saning Sari is represented by certain 
stalks or grains called indoea padi^ that is, literally, '' Mother 
of Rice," a name that is often given to the guardian spirit 
herself. This so-called Mother of Rice is the occasion of a 
number of ceremonies observed at the planting and harvesting 
of the rice as well as during its preservation in the bam. 
When the seed of the rice is about to be sown in the 
nursery or bedding-out ground, where under the wet system 
of cultivation it is regularly allowed to sprout before being 
transplanted to the fields, the best grains are picked out to 
form the Rice-mother. These are then sown in the middle 
of the bed, and the common seed is planted round about 
them. The state of the Rice-mother is supposed to exert 
the greatest influence on the growth of the rice ; if she 
droops or pines away, the harvest will be bad in consequence. 
The woman who sows the Rice-mother in the nursery lets 
her hair hang loose and afterwards bathes, as a means of 
ensuring an abundant harvest. When the time comes to 
transplant the rice from the nursery to the field, the Rice- 
mother receives a special place either in the middle or in a 
comer of the field, and a prayer or charm is uttered as 



* E. B. Cross, "On the Kzxen^'^ Jountal of the American Oriental Society^ 
iv. (1854), p. 309. 




follows : " Saning Sari, may a measure of rice come from a 
stalk of rice and a basketful from a root ; may you be 
frightened neither by lightning nor by passers-by ! Sunshine 
make you glad ; with the storm may you be at peace ; and 
may rain serve to wash your face ! " While the rice is 
growing, the particular plant which was thus treated as the 
Rice-mother is lost sight of; but before harvest another 
Rice-mother is found. When the crop is ripe for cutting, 
the oldest woman of the family or a sorcerer goes out to 
look for her. The first stalks seen to bend under a passing 
breeze are the Rice-mother, and they are tied together but 
not cut until the first-fruits of the field have been carried 
home to serve as a festal meal for the family and their 
friends, nay even for the domestic animals ; since it is Saning 
Sari's pleasure that the beasts also should partake of her 
good gifts. After the meal has been eaten, the Rice-mother 
is fetched home by persons in gay attire, who carry her very 
carefully under an umbrella in a neatly worked bag to the 
bam, where a place in the middle is assigned to her. Every 
one believes that she takes care of the rice in the barn and 
even multiplies it not uncommonly.^ 

Again, just as in Scotland the old and the young spirit 
of the com are represented as an Old Wife or Carline and 
a Maiden respectively, so in the Malay Peninsula we find 
both the Rice-mother and her child represented by different 
sheaves or bundles of ears on the harvest-field. The follow- 
ing directions for obtaining both are translated from a native 
Malay work on the cultivation of rice : " When the rice is 
ripe all over, one must first take the * soul * out of all the 

1 J. L. van dcr Toorn, «• Het 
aniroisme bij den Minangkabauer der 
Padagnsche Bovenlanden,** Bijctragett 
tot de Tool' Land' en Volkettkunde van 
Ncderlandsch Indil^ xxxix. (1890), pp. 
63-65. In the charm recited at sowing 
the Rice-mother in the bed, I have 
translated the Dntch word stoel as 
'* root," but I am not snre of its precise 
meaning in this connection. For har- 
vest-rites of the same general character 
observed in the Mandeling and Batang- 
natal districts of Sumatra, on the 
north coast of Ceram, and among the 
Alfoors of Central Celebes, see Th. A. 

L. Heyting, ** Beschrijving der onder- 
afdeeling Groot-mandeling en Batang- 
natal," Tijduhrift van het Nederlandsck 
Aardrijkskundif^ Genoctschap^ Tweede 
Serie, xiv. (1897), p. 2901^. ; J. Boot, 
"Korte schets der noordkust van 
Ceram," Tijdschrift van ket NederL 
Aardrijks. Gmootschap^ Tweede Serie, 

X* (1^93)1 P- 671 ^V* * A. C. Kruijt, 
** Eien en ander aangaande het gees- 
telijk en maatschappelijk leven van 
den Poso-Alfoer," Mededeelingen van 
ivege het Xidertands<he Zende/inj^- 
f^cnootSihap^ xxxix. (1895), p. 145 




plots of one's field. You choose the spot where the rice is 
best and where it is 'female' (that is to say, where the 
bunch of stalks is big) and where there are seven joints in 
the stalk. You begin with a bunch of this kind and clip 
seven stems to be the * soul of the rice ' ; and then you clip 
yet another handful to be the * mother-seed ' for the following 
year. The * soul ' is wrapped , in a white cloth tied with a 
cord of terap bark, and made into the shape of a little child 
in swaddling clothes, and put into the small basket The 
'mother-seed' is put into another basket, and both are 
fumigated with benzoin, and then the two baskets are 
piled the one on the other and taken home, and put into 
the kepuk (the receptacle in which rice is stored)." ^ The 
ceremony of cutting and bringing home the Soul of the Rice 
was witnessed by Mr. W. W. Skeat at Chodoi in Selangor 
on the twenty-eighth of January 1897. The particular 
bunch or sheaf which was to serve as the Mother of the 
Rice-soul had previously been sought and identified by 
means of the markings or shape of the ears. From this 
sheaf an aged sorceress, with much solemnity, cut a little 
bundle of seven ears, anointed them with oil, tied them 
round with parti -coloured thread, fumigated them with 
incense, and having wrapt them in a white cloth deposited 
them in a little oval-shaped basket These seven ears were 
the infant Soul of the Rice and the little basket was its 
cradle. It was carried home to the farmer's house by 
another woman, who held up an umbrella to screen the 
tender infant from the hot rays of the sun. Arrived at the 
house the Rice-child was welcomed by the women of the 
family, and laid, cradle and all, on a new sleeping-mat with 
pillows at the head. After that the farmer's wife was 
instructed to obser\'e certain rules of taboo for three days, 
the rules being in many respects identical with those which 
have to be observed for three days after the birth of a real 
child. For example, perfect quiet must be observed, as in 
a house where a baby has just been born ; a light^ was 
placed near the head of the Rice-child's bed and might not 
go out at night, while the fire on the hearth had to be kept 
up both day and night till the three days were over ; hair 

1 W. \V. Skeat, Malay Ma^k^ P- 225 tq. 



# might not be cut ; and money, rice, salt, oil, and so forth 

I were forbidden to go out of the house, though of course 

these valuable articles were quite free to come in. Some- 
i thing of the same tender care which is thus bestowed on 

! the newly-born Rice-child is naturally extended also to its 

parent, the sheaf from whose body it was taken. This 
sheaf, which remains standing in the field after the Rice-soul 
has been carried home and put to bed, is treated as a newly- 
made mother ; that is to say, young shoots of trees are 
pounded together and scattered broadcast every evening for 
three successive days, and when the three days are up you 
take the pulp of a cocoa-nut and what are called "goat- 
flowers," mix them up, eat them with a little sugar, and spit 
some of the mixture out among the rice. So after a real 
birth the young shoots of the jack-fruit, the rose-apple, certain 
kinds of banana, and the thin pulp of young cocoa-nuts are 
mixed with dried fish, salt, acid, prawn-condiment, and the 
like dainties to form a sort of salad, which is administered 
to mother and child for three successive days. The last 
sheaf is reaped by the farmer's wife, who carries it back to 
the house, where it is threshed and mixed with the Rice- 
soul. The farmer then takes the Rice-soul and its basket and 
deposits it, together with the product of the last sheaf, in the 
big circular rice-bin used by the Malays. Some of the grain 
from the Rice-soul are mixed with the seed which is to be 
sown in the following year.^ In this Rice-mother and Rice- 
child of the Malay Peninsula we may see the counterpart 
and in a sense the prototype of the Demeter and Proserpine 
of ancient Greece. 

Once more, the European custom of representing the 
corn-spirit in the double form of bride and bridegroom ^ has 
its parallel in a ceremony obser\'ed at the rice-harvest in 
Java. Before the reapers begin to cut the rice, the priest or 
sorcerer picks out a number of ears of rice, which are tied 
together, smeared with ointment, and adorned with flowers. 
Thus decked out, the ears are called the pculi-phiganten^ that 
is, the Rice-bride and the Rice-bridegroom ; their wedding 
feast is celebrated, and the cutting of the rice begins im- 

' \V. W. Skent, Malay Magii\ pp. 235-249. 
- Sec above, p. 186 sq. 




mediately afterwards. Later on, when the rice is being got 
in, a bridal chamber is partitioned off in the barn, and 
furnished with a new mat, a lamp, and all kinds of toilet 
articles. Sheaves of rice, to represent the wedding guests, 
are placed beside the Rice-bride and the Rice-bridegroom. 
Not till this has been done may the whole harvest be housed 
in the barn. And for the first forty days after the rice has 
been housed, no one may enter the barn, for fear of disturb- 
ing the newly-wedded pair.^ 

Thus the theory which recognises in the European Corn- 
mother, Corn-maiden, and so forth, the embodiment in 
vegetable form of the animating spirit of the crops is amply 
confirmed by the evidence of peoples in other parts of the 
world, who, because they have lagged behind the European races 
in mental development, retain for that very reason a keener 
sense of the original motives for observing those rustic rites 
which among ourselves have sunk to the level of meaningless 
survivals. The reader may, however, remember that accord- 
ing to Mannhardt, whose theory I am expounding, the spirit 
of the com manifests itself not merely in vegetable but also 
in human form ; the person who cuts the last sheaf or gives 
the last stroke at threshing passes for a temporary embodi- 
ment of the corn-spirit, just as much as the bunch of corn 
which he reaps or threshes. Now in the parallels which have 
been hitherto adduced from the customs of peoples outside 
Europe the spirit of the crops appears only in vegetable form. 
It remains, therefore, to prove that other races besides our 
European peasantry have conceived the spirit of the crops 
as incorporate in or represented by living men and women. 



1 Vcth,/tf»tt, i. 524-526. The cere- 
mony has also been described by Miss 
Augusta de Wit (Facts and Fancies about 
Java^ Singapore, 1898, pp. 229-241), 
who lajrs stress on the extreme import- 
ance of the rice-harvest for the Javanese. 
The whole island of Java, she tells us, 
"is one vast rice-field. Rice on the 
swampy plains, riceon the rising ground, 
rice on the slopes, rice on the ver)* 
summits of the hills. From the sod 
under one's feet to the verge of the 
horizon, everything has one and the 
same colour, the bluish -•;reen of the 

young, or the gold of the ripened rice. 
The natives are all, without exception, 
tillers of the soil, who reckon their lives 
by seasons of planting and reaping, 
whose happiness or misery u synony- 
mous with the abundance or the dearth 
of the precious grain. And the great 
national feast Is the harvest home, with 
its crowning ceremony of the Wedding 
of the Rice " {op. cit, p. 2 29 sq. ). I have 
to thank my friend Prof. A. C. Hadtlon 
for directing my attention to Miss de 
Wit's book. 



Such a proof, I may remind the reader, is germane to the 
theme of this book ; for the more instances we discover of 
human beings representing in themselves the life or animat- 
ing spirit of plants, the less difficulty will be felt at classing 
amongst them the King of the Wood at Aricia. 

The Mandans and Minnitarees of North America used 
to hold a festival in spring which they called the corn- 
medicine festival of the women. They thought that a 
certain Old Woman who Never Dies made the crops to grow, 
and that, living somewhere in the south, she sent the migra- 
tory waterfowl in spring as her tokens and representatives. 
Each sort of bird represented a special kind of crop cultivated 
by the Indians : the wild goose stood for the maize, the wild 
swan for the gourds, and the wild duck for the beans. So 
when the feathered messengers of the Old Woman began to 
arrive in spring the Indians celebrated the corn-medicine 
festival of the women. Scaffolds were set up, on which the 
people hung dried meat and other things by way of offerings 
to the Old Woman ; and on a certain day the old women 
of the tribe, as representatives of the Old Woman who Never 
Dies, assembled at the scaffolds each bearing in her hand an 
ear of maize fastened to a stick. They first planted these 
sticks in the ground, then danced round the scaffolds, and 
finally took up the sticks again in their arms. Meanwhile 
old men beat drums and shook rattles as a musical accom-^ 
paniment to the performance of the old women. Further, 
young women came and put dried flesh into the mouths of 
the old women, for which they received in return a grain of 
the consecrated maize to eat. Three or four grains of the 
holy com were also placed in the dishes of the young women, 
to be afterwards carefully mixed with the seed-corn, which 
they were supposed to fertilise. The dried flesh hung on 
the scaffold belonged to the old women, because they re- 
presented the Old Woman who Never Dies. A similar corn- 
medicine festival was held in autumn for the purpose of 
attracting the herds of buffaloes and securing a supply of 
meat At that time every woman carried in her arms an 
uprooted plant of maize. They gave the name of the Old 
Woman who Never Dies both to the maize and to those 
birds which they regarded as symbols of the fruits of the 


earth, and they prayed to them in autumn saying, " Mother, 
have pity on us ! send us not the bitter cold too soon, lest we 
have not meat enough ! let not all the game depart, that we 
may have something for the winter ! " In autumn, when the 
birds were flying south, the Indians thought that they were 
going home to the Old Woman and taking to her the offer- 
ings that had been hung up on the scaffolds, especially the 
dried meat, which she ate,^ Here then we have the spirit or 
divinity of the com conceived as an Old Woman and re- \ 

presented in bodily form by old women, who in their capacity 
of representatives receive some at least of the offerings which 
are intended for her. 

Again, we have seen that in some parts of Germany the 
spirit of the crops is represented simultaneously in male and 
female form by a man and a woman cased in straw at harvest, 
just as the spirit of trees or of vegetation in general is 
represented by a Lord and Lady of the May dressed in 
leaves and flowers in spring. Such personifications of the 
powers of vegetation occur naturally to primitive man, who 
is apt to conceive that plants, like animals, propagate their 
kind through the intercourse of the sexes. The conception 
is far from being wholly erroneous, but an entirely false 
extension is given to it by the savage who fancies that the 
process of procreation is not merely similar but identical in 
plants and animals, so that, on the one hand, men and 
animals can be fertilised by trees, and on the other hand 
the earth can be quickened and crops made to grow by the 
intercourse of the human sexes. In the first chapter 
examples were given of the fertilising influence supposed to 
be exerted by trees on women and cattle ; here I propose to 
illustrate the converse process, by which men think they can 
promote or retard the growth of plants. How far in acting 
thus they consciously personate the powers of vegetation is 
a question which we can hardly in every case decide ; a 
belief in the efficacy of sympathetic magic, which is the 
base of all these ceremonies, seems sufficient to account for 
some at least of the following customs without resorting to 
the hypothesis that the persons who practise them deliberately 
masquerade as spirits of vegetation. 

* Maximilian, Prinr zu Wied, Reise in das innere Nord-Amcrica^ ii. \%2sq. 


For four days before they committed the seed to the earth 
the Pipiles of Central America kept apart from their wives 
" in order that on the night before planting they might indulge 
their passions to the fullest extent ; certain persons are even 
said to have been appointed to perform the sexual act at the 
very moment when the first seeds were deposited in the 
ground." The use of their wives at that time was indeed 
enjoined upon the people by the priests as a religious duty, 
in default of which it was not lawful to sow the seed.^ The 
only possible explanation of this custom seems to be that the 
Indians confused the process by which human beings re- 
produce their kind with the process by which plants discharge 
the same function, and fancied that by resorting to the former 
they were simultaneously forwarding the latter. The same 
confusion has been made by other races of men. In some 
parts of Java, at the season when the bloom will soon be on 
the rice, the husbandman and his wife visit their fields by 
night and there engage in sexual intercourse for the purpose 
of promoting the growth of the crop.* In the Leti, Sarmata, 
and some other groups of islands which lie between the 
western end of New Guinea and the northern part of 
Australia, the heathen population r^ard the sun as the 
male principle by whom the earth or female principle is 
fertilised. They call him Upu-lera or Mr. Sun, and represent 
him under the form of a lamp made of cocoa-nut leaves, 
which may be seen hanging everywhere in their houses 
and in the sacred fig-tree. Once a year, at the begin- 
ning of the rainy season, Mr. Sun comes down into the 
holy fig-tree to fertilise the earth, and to facilitate his de- 
scent a ladder with seven rungs is considerately placed at 
his disposal. It is set up under the tree and is adorned 
with carved figures of the birds whose shrill clarion heralds 
the approach of the sun in the East On this occasion 
pigs and dogs arc sacrificed in profusion ; men and women 
alike indulge in a saturnalia; and the mystic union of 
the sun and the earth is dramatically represented in public, 

^ Brasseur de Bourbourg, Histoire hgi$ der Indiamrstdmme von Guaig- 

des Nations civilis^es du Mexique ei dt mala^ p. 47. 

fAnUrique Centrales ii. 565 ; Bancroft, ^ G. A. \YiIken« " Het animisme bij 

Native Races of the Pacific States^ ii. de volken van den Indischen Archipel," 

719 if., iii. 507 ; O. Stoll, Die Etkno- De Indiscke Cids, June 1884, p. 958. 




amid song and dance, by the real union of the sexes under 
the tree. In the Babar Islands a special flag is hoisted at 
this festival as a symbol of the creative energy of the sun ; 
it is of white cotton, about nine feet high, and consists of the 
figure of a man' in an appropriate attitude.^ It would be 
unjust to treat these orgies as a mere outburst of unbridled 
passion ; no doubt they are deliberately and solemnly 
organised as essential to the fertility of the earth and the 
welfare of man. The same means which are thus adopted 
to stimulate the growth of the crops are naturally employed 
to ensure the fruitfulness of trees. The ancient work which 
bore the title of TJie Agriculture of the Nabataeans^ but which 
seems to have been written at Babylon and to describe 
Babylonian usages, contained apparently a direction that the 
gfrafting of a tree upon another tree of a different sort should 
be done by a damsel, who at the very moment of inserting 
the gfraft in the bough should herself be subjected to treat- 
ment which can only be regarded as a direct copy of the 
operation she was performing on the tree.* In some parts 
of Amboyna, when the state of the clove plantation indicates 
that the crop is likely to be scanty, the men go naked to the 
plantations by night, and there seek to fertilise the trees 
precisely as they would women, while at the same time they 
call out for ** More cloves ! " This is supposed to make the 
trees bear fruit more abundantly." In Java when a palm 
tree is to be tapped for wine, the man who proposes to 
relieve the tree of its superfluous juices deems it necessary 


» G. W. W. C. Baron van Hocvcll, 
in Tijdschrift iHfor Ittdische Taal' Lafui- 
en Volkenkunde, xxxiii. (1898), pp. 204 
1^., 206 sq. ; id,^ in IntemationaUs 
Archiv fur EihHCgrapkiif viiL (1895), 
p. 134. In the island of Timor the 
marriage of the Sun-god with Mother 
Earth is deemed the source of all fer- 
tility and growth. See J. S. G. Gram- 
berg, *' Eene maand in de Binnenlanden 
van Timor,*' Vtrkandclingni van kit 
Bataviaasch Ctnootukap van Kunsten 
en Weiemschappen^ xxxvi. 206 sq, ; 
H. Sondervan, ** Timor en de Timor- 
eezen," Tijdschriftvati hetNederlandsch 
Attrdrijkskundig Gcnootschap^ Tweede 
Serie, dl. v. (1888), Afdeeling, meer 

uitgebreide artikelen, p. 397. 

^ Maimonides, translated by Chwol- 
sohn. Die Ssabier und der SsabisntuSy 
ii. 475. It is not quite clear whether 
the direction, which Maimonides here 
attributes to the Sabacans, is taken 
by him from the beginning of 7'ke 
Agriculiure of the Nabaiaeans^ which he 
had referred to a few lines before. The 
first part of that work ap})ears to be lost, 
though other parts of it exist in 
manuscript at Paris, Oxford, and else- 
where. See Chwolsohn, op, at. i. 697 

« G. W. W. C Baron van Hocvcll, 
Afubon en nteer bepaaldelijk de OeOasers 
(Dordrecht, 1875), p. 62 sq. 


to approach the palm in the character of a lover and a 
husband, as well as of a son. When he comes upon a 
palm which he thinks suitable, he will not begin cutting at 
the trunk until he has intimated as delicately as he can the 
reasons which lead him to perform that surgical operation, and 
the ardent affection which he cherishes for the tree. For 
this purpose he holds a dialogue with the palm, in which he 
naturally speaks in the character of the tree as well as in his 
own. " O mother endang-reni ! " he begins, " for the sake of 
you I have let myself be drenched by the rain and scorched 
by the sun ; long have I sought you ! Now at last have I 
found you. How ardently have I longed for you I Often 
before have you given me the breast. Yet I still thirst. 
Therefore now I ask for four potfuls more." "Well, fair 
youth," replies the tree, " I have always been here. What 
{s the reason that you have sought me ? " *' The reason I 
have sought you is that I have heard you suffer from in- 
continentia urinae** " So I do," says the tree. "Will you marry 
nie ? " says the man. " That I will," says the Jree, " but first 
you must plight your troth and recite the usual confession of 
faith." On that the man takes a rattan leaf and wraps it 
round the palm as a pledge of betrothal, after which he says 
the creed : " There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is 
his prophet." The maidenly and orthodox scruples of the 
tree having thus been satisfied, he embraces it as his bride. 
At first he attaches only a small dish to the trunk to receive 
the juices which exude from the cut in the bark ; a large dish 
might frighten the tree. In fastening the dish to the palm 
he says, '' Bok-endang-reni / your child is languishing away 
for thirst He asks you for a drink." The tree replies, 
** Let him slake his thirst ! Mother's breasts arc full to over- 
flowing." ^ We have already seen that in some parts of 
Northern India a mock marriage between two actors is 
performed in honour of a newly-planted orchard,^ no doubt 
for the purpose of making it bear fruit. In the Nicobar 

1 J. Kreemer, *'Tuing-dercs/* J/W^- volken van den Indiscben Archipel," 

deelingen tnm wege ket Nederiafidsche De Indisckc Cids^ June 1 884, p. 96a 

Zendtliptgginootsthap^ xxvi. (1 882), pp. sq, ; and Ilandleiding voor devargtUj' 

128-132. This and the preceding kendi Volktnkunde {Xie^^^% 1893)9 p. 

custom have been already quoted )xf 550). 

G. A. Wilken (** Ilet animisme bij de - Vol. i. p. 177. 




Islands a pregnant woman is taken into the gardens in 
order to impart the blessing of fertility to the plants.^ In 
various parts of Europe customs have prevailed both at 
spring and harvest which are clearly based on the same 
primitive notion that the relation of the human sexes to 
each other can be so used as to quicken the growth of 
plants. For example, in the Ukraine on St George's Day 
(the twenty-third of April) the priest in his robes, attended 
by his acolytes, goes out to the fields of the village, 
where the crops are beginning to show green above the 
gpround, and blesses them. After that the young married 
people lie down in couples on the sown fields and roll several 
times over on them, in the belief that this will promote the 
gprowth of the crops. In some parts of Russia the priest 
himself is rolled by women over the sprouting crop, and that 
without regard to the mud and holes which he may encounter 
in his beneficent progress. If the shepherd resists or re- 
monstrates, his flock murmurs, " Little Father, you do not 
really wish us well, you do not wish us to have corn, although 
you do wish to live on our com." * In England it used to 
be customary for young couples to roll down a slope to- 
gether on May Day ; on Greenwich-hill the custom was 
practised at Easter and Whitsuntide, as it still is, or was 
within the present generation, practised near Dublin at Whit- 
suntide. When we consider how closely these seasons, 
especially May Day and Whitsuntide, are associated with 
ceremonies for the revival of plant life in spring, we shall 
scarcely doubt that the custom of rolling in couples at such 
times had originally the same significance which it still has 
in Russia; and when further we compare this particular 
custom with the practice of representing the vernal powers of 
vegetation by a bridal pair, and remember the traditions 
which even in our own country attach to May-Day ,• we shall 
probably do no injustice to our forefathers if we conclude 
that they once celebrated the return of spring with grosser 

1 W. Svoboda, **Die Bewohner des 
Nikobaren-Archipels," Iniemationales 
Arckwfur Ethtwgraphu, v. (1892), p. 
1 93 sq. For other examples of a fruit- 
ful woman making trees fruitful, see 
voL i. p. 38 sq. 

* Mannhardt, Baumkultus^ p. 480 
sq. \ itLf Myikoiogische Forschungtft^ 

p. 341. 

' Brand, Popular Antiquities^ i. 

213, quoting Stubbs, Anatomie of 

Abuses {itfil)^ p. 94. 






rites, of which the customs I have referred to are only a 
stunted survival. Indeed, these rites in their grossest form 
are said to be still observed in various parts of Holland at 
Whitsuntide.^ In some parts of Germany at harvest the men 
and women, who have reaped the com, roll together on the 
field.^ This again is probably a mitigation of an older and 
ruder custom designed to impart fertility to the fields by 
methods like those resorted to by the Pipiles of Central 
America long ago, and by the cultivators of rice in Java at 
the present time. In Poso, when the rice-crop is not 
thriving, the farmer's wife sets bowls of rice and betel in 
various parts of the field ; then she lies down, draws her 
petticoat over her head, and pretends to fall asleep. But one 
of her children thereupon mimics the crowing of a cock, 
and at the sound she gets up, ** because a new day has 
dawned." The intention of this ceremony, which the natives 
could not or would not explain to the Dutch missionary 
who reports it, may be to place the woman at the disposal 
of the god of the field. We are expressly told that 
there is a special god of the rice-fields named Puwe-wai, 
and that the ceremony in question is performed in his 

To the student who cares to track the devious course of 
the human mind in its gropings after truth, it is of some 
interest to observe that the same theoretical belief in the 
sympathetic influence of the s^^ts on vegetation, which has 
led some peoples to indulge their passions as a means of 
fertilising the earth, has led others to seek the same end by 
directly opposite means. From the moment that they sowed 
the maize till the time that they reaped it, the Indians of 
Nicaragua lived chastely, keeping apart from their wives and 

» G. \V. W. C. Baron ran HocvcU. 
in IfUtrnationaUs Arckiv fur Eikno- 
graphU^ viiL (1 895), p. 1 34 note. The 
custom seems to go by the name of 
dauwtroppen or ** dew-treading." As 
districts or places in which the practice 
b still kept up the writer names South 
Holland, Dordrecht, and Rotterdam. 

^ L. Strackerjan, Aberglaube und 
Sagen aus dem Herzogthum Oldenburg 
(Oldenburg, 1867), ii. p. 78, § 361 ; 


Mannhardt, Baumkultus, p. 481 ; 
id^ Mytkolcg, Foruhungen^ p. 340. 
Compare Th. Siebs, «* Das Saterland," 
ZtUschrift fiir Volkskunde, iu. (1893), 

p. 277. 

» A. C. Kruijt, " Een en ander 
aangaande het geestelijk en maatschap- 
pelijk le\'en van den Poso-Alfoer,*' 
Mededulingtn van W€ge kei Neder- 
/ofldscke Zendelinggenootschap^ xxxix. 
(1895), p. 138, ibid, xl. (1896), p. 16 sq, 





sleeping in a separate place. They ate no salt, and drank 
neither cocoa nor ckicha, the fermented liquor made from 
maize ; in short the season was for them, as the Spanish 
historian observes, a time of abstinence.^ To this day some 
of the Indian tribes of Central America practise continence 
for the purpose of thereby promoting the growth of the crops. 
Thus we are told that before sowing the maize the Kekchi 
Indians sleep apart from their wives, and eat no flesh for five 
days, while among the Lanquineros and Cajaboneros the 
period of abstinence from these carnal pleasures extends to 
thirteen days.* So amongst some of the Germans of Tran- 
sylvania it is a rule that no man may sleep with his wife 
during the whole of the time that he is engaged in sowing 
his fields.* In some of the Melanesian islands, when the 
yam vines are being trained, the men sleep near the gardens 
and never approach their wives ; should they enter the 
garden after breaking this rule of continence the fruits of the 
garden would be spoilt.^ In the Motu tribe of New Guinea, 
when rain has fallen plentifully and there is promise of a 
good crop of bananas, one of the chief men becomes holy or 
taboo, and must live apart from his wife and eat only certain 
kinds of food. He bids the young men beat the drum and 
dance, " in order that by so doing there may be a lai^e 
harvest If the dancing is not given, there will be an end 
to the good growth ; but if it is continued, all will go well. 
People come in from other villages to assist, and will dance 
all night"* In the incense-growing region of Arabia in 
antiquity there were three families charged with the special 
care of the incense-trees. They were called sacred, and at 
the time when they cut the trees or gathered the incense 

* G. F. Ovicdo y Valdcs, Histoire 
du Nicaragua (published in Ternaux- 
Compans* Voyages^ RefaHans et 
Aihnoires originaux, etc), Paris, 1840, 
p. 228 J^. ; Herrera, General History 
^ the fast continent and islcmds coiled 
America (Stevens* trans.), iii. 298. 

* C Sapper, *' Die Gebrauche und 
religiosen Anschauungen der Kekchi- 
Indianer,'* Internationales Archiv fUr 
Ethnographic^ viii. (1895), p. 203. 
Abstinence from women for several 
days b also practised before the sowing 

of beans and of chilis, but only by 
Indians who do a large business in 
these commodities {ibid p. 205). 

' A. Heinrich, Agrarische Sittenund 
CebrOuche unter den Sachsen Sieben- 
bUrgens (Hermannstadt, 1880), p. 7. 

^ R. H. Codrington, TheMelanesians^ 
p. 134. 

* J. Chalmers, Pioneering in New 
Guinea^ p. 181. The word which I 
have taken to mean ** holy or taboo " 
is helagcL Mr. Chalmers does not 
translate or explain it 



they were forbidden to pollute themselves with women or 
with the contact of the dead ; the observance of these rules 
of ceremonial purity was believed to increase the supply of 
incense.^ With ancient Greek husbandmen it was a maxim 
that olives should always be planted and gathered by pure 
boys and virgins ; the uncommon fruitfulness of the olive 
trees at Anazarbus in Cilicia was attributed to their being 
tended by young and innocent children. In default of such 
workers, the olive-gatherer had to swear that he had been 
faithful to his own wife ; for his fidelity was believed to ensure 
an abundant crop of fruit the following year.* The same rule 
of chastity which is thus believed to contribute to the fertility 
of the earth and of trees is also applied, oddly enough, for the 
purpose of multiplying the animals which the savage uses as 
food. At Mowat, in New Guinea, the men are reported to 
have no relations with women during the season when the 
turtles are coupling, although considerable laxity of morals 
prevails at other times.' The reason for this sudden access 
of virtue is no doubt nothing more than a fear on the part of 
the untutored savage that the commerce of the sexes would 
in some way interfere with the coupling of the turtles and so 
diminish his supply of. food. The same rule of continence is 
observed by unmarried people in Mabuiag at the . same 
season, which lasts during parts of October and November; 
for they believe that if the rule were broken they would catch 
no turtle ; whenever the canoe approached the pair, the male 
would separate from the female, and the two would dive 
down into deep water in different directions.^ 

Again, the sympathetic relation supposed to exist 
between the commerce of the sexes and the fertility of the 
earth manifests itself in the belief that illicit love tends, 
directly or indirectly, to mar that fertility and to blight the 
crops. Such a belief prevails, for example, among the 
Karens of Burma. They imagine that adultery or forni- 
cation has a powerful influence to injure the harvest Hence 
if the crops have been bad for a year or two, and no rain 

^ Pliny, Nat, Hist, xiL 54 ; Solinus, ^ A. C. Haddon, vajoumat of the 

xxxiii. 6 Jf., p. 166 ed. Monimsen (first Anthropological Institute^ xix. (1890), 

edition). p. 467. 

' Palladius, De re rustica^ L 6. 14 ; * Id,^ in Joum, Anthrop, Inst, xix. 

Geoponica^ ix. 3. 5 sq, (1S90), p. 397. 




falls, the villagers set down the dearth to secret sins of this 
kind, and say that the God of heaven and earth is angry 
with them on that account ; and they all unite in^ making 
an offering to appease him. Further, whenever adultery or 
fornication is detected, the elders decide that the sinners 
must buy a hog and kill it Then the woman takes one 
foot of the hog, and the man takes another, and they scrape 
out furrows in the ground with each foot, and fill the 
furrows with the blood of the hog. Next they scratch the 
ground with their hands and pray : " God of heaven and 
earth, God of the mountains and hills, I have destroyed the 
productiveness of the country. Do not be angry with me, 
do not hate me ; but have mercy on me, and compassionate 
me. Now I repair the mountains, now I heal the hills, and 
the streams and the lands. May there be no failure of 
crops, may there be no unsuccessful labours, or unfortunate 
efforts in my country. Let them be dissipated to the foot 
of the horizon. Make thy paddy fruitful, thy rice abundant 
Make the vegetables to flourish. If we cultivate but little, 
still grant that we may obtain a little." After each has 
prayed thus, they return to the house and say they have 
repaired the earth.* The Battas of Sumatra think that if 
an unmarried woman is big with child, it is necessary to give 
her in marriage at once, even to a man of lower rank ; for 
otherwise the people will be infested by tigers, and the 
crops in the field will not yield an abundant return. The 
crime of incest, in their opinion, would blast the whole 
harvest if the wrong were not speedily repaired.' When 
the rain pours down steadily day after day and week after 
week, and the crops are rotting in the fields, the Dyaks of 
Borneo come to the conclusion that some one has been 
indulging in fleshly lusts ; so the elders lay their heads 
together and adjudicate on all cases of incest and bigamy, 
and purify the earth with the blood of pigs, which appears 
to possess in a high degree the valuable property of atoning 

' F. Mason, "On dwellings, works 
of art, laws, etc., of the Karens,*' 
Journal of the Asiatic Society of 
Bengaly xxxvii. (1868), Part ii. p. 
147 sq, 

' J. B. Neumann, " Hct Pane- en 

Bila • stroomgebied op het eiland 
Sumatra," Tijdschrift van het Neder- 
landsch Aardrijkskundif^ Genootschap, 
Twccdc Seric, dl. iii. Afdeeling, meer 
uitgebreide artikelen, No. 3 (1886), 
p. 514 sq. 





for moral guilt For three days the villages are tabooed and 
all labour discontinued ; the inhabitants remain at home, and 
no strangers are admitted. Not long ago the offenders, 
whose lewdness had thus brought the whole country into 
danger, would have been punished with death or at least 
slavery. A Dyak may not marry his first cousin unless he 
first performs a special ceremony called bergaput to avert 
evil consequences fi-om the land. The couple repair to 
the water-side, fill a small pitcher with their personal 
ornaments, and sink it in the river ; or instead of a jar they 
fling a chopper and a plate into the water. A pig is then 
sacrificed on the bank, and its carcass, drained of blood, is 
thrown in after the jar. Next the pair are pushed into the 
water by their friends and ordered to bathe together. 
Lastly, a joint of bamboo is filled with pig's blood, and the 
couple perambulate the country and the villages round 
about, sprinkling the blood on the ground. After that they 
are free to* marry. This is done, we are told, for the sake 
of the whol^ country, in order that the rice may not be 
blasted.^ When it rains in torrents, the Galelareese say that 
brother and sister, or father and daughter, or in short some 
near relations are having illicit relations with each other, 
and that every human being must be informed of it, for then 
only will the rain cease to descend. The superstition has 
repeatedly caused blood relations to be accused, rightfully or 
wrongfully, of incest. The people also regard other alarming 
natural phenomena, for instance a violent earthquake or the 
eruption of a volcano, as consequences of crimes of the 
same sort Persons accused of the crime are brought to 
Ternate ; it is said that formerly they were often drowned 

^ H. Ling Rotb, " Low^s natives of 
Borneo, '*y<M#nf a/ ^M^ Anthropological 
Instiiute^ xxi. (1892), pp. 1 13 J^., 133, 
xxii. (1893), P> 24 > ^^'t Na/itts of 
Sarawak and firitisk North Borneo^ i. 
401. Compare J. Perham, ** Petara 
or Sea Dyak Gods,** Journal of the 
Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic 
Society, No. 8, December 1881, p. 
150; If. Ling Roth, Natives of 
SarmiHih, etc, i. 180. According to 
Archdeacon Perham, *' Every district 
traversed by an adulterer is believed 

to be accursed of the gods until the 
proper sacrifice has been ofTered.** 
In respectable Dyak families, when an 
unmarried girl is found with child and 
the father is unknown, they sacrifice a 
pig and sprinkle the doors with its 
i)lood to wash away the sin (Spenser St. 
John, Life in the Forests of the Far 
East^ i. 64). In Ceram a person 
convicted of unchastity has to expiate 
his guilt by smearing ever)* house in the 
village with the blood of a pig and a 
fowl (A. Bastian, Indonesicn, i. 144). 




on the way or, on being haled thither, were condemned to 
be thrown into the volcano.^ In Loango the negroes think 
that drought and dearth result from the intercourse of a 
man with an immature girl, unless the offender repairs to 
court, and there in the presence of the king and a large 
audience expiates his guilt by dances and other cere- 
monies, in return for which he receives absolution from the 

When we observe how widely diffused is the belief in 
the sympathetic influence of human conduct, and especially 
of the relations of the sexes, on the fruits of the earth, we 
may perhaps be allowed to conjecture that the Lenten fast, 
with the rule of continence which is still, I understand, 
enjoined on strict Catholics during that season, was in its 
origin intended, not so much to commemorate the sufferings 
of a dying God, as to foster the growth of the seed, which 
in the bleak days of early spring the husbandman commits, 
with anxious care and misgiving, to the bosom of the naked 
earth. But to this topic we shall recur later on. 

If we ask why it is that similar beliefs should logically 
lead, among different peoples, to such opposite modes of 
conduct as strict chastity and more or less open debauchery, 
the reason, as it presents itself to the primitive mind, is 
perhaps not very far to seek. If rude man identifies him- 
self, in a manner, with nature ; if he fails to distinguish the 
impulses and processes in himself from the methods which 
nature adopts to ensure the reproduction of plants and 
animals, he may jump to one of two conclusions. Either 
he may infer that by yielding to his appetites he will thereby 
assist in the multiplication of plants and aninials ; or he may 
imagine that the vigour which he refuses to expend in repro- 
ducing his own kind, will form as it were a store of energy 
whereby other creatures, whether vegetable or animal, will 
somehow benefit in propagating their species. Thus from the 


^ M. J. van Baarda, *' Fabclen, 
Verhalen en Overleveringen der 
Galelareezen,** Bijdragen tot de Taal- 
I^nd- en Volkenkunde van Neder- 
iandseh IndU^ xlv. (1895), p. 514. 
In the Banggai Archipelago, to the 
east of Celebes, earthquakes are ex- 

plained as punishments inflicted by 
e\il spirits for indulgence in illicit love 
(F. S. A. de Clercq, Bijdragen tot de 
Kennis der Resideutie Ternate (Ley den, 
1890), p. 132). 

* Dapper, Description de CAfrtque^ 
p. 326. 




same crude philosophy, the same primitive notions of nature 
and life, the savage may derive by different channels a rule 
either of profligacy or of asceticism. 

To readers bred in a religion which is saturated with 
the ascetic idealism of the East, the explanation which I 
have given of the rule of continence observed under certain 
circumstances by rude or savage peoples may seem far- 
fetched and improbable. They may think that the idea of 
moral purity, which is so intimately associated in their 
minds with the observance of such a rule, furnishes a 
sufficient explanation of it ; they may hold with Milton ^ 
that chastity in itself is a noble virtue, and that the restraint 
which it imposes on one of the strongest impulses of our 
animal nature marks out those who can submit to it as men 
raised above the common herd, and therefore worthy to 
receive the seal of the divine approbation. However natural 
this mode of thought may seem to us, it is utterly foreign 
and indeed incomprehensible to the savage. If he resists 
on occasion the sexual instinct, it is from no high idealism, 
no ethereal aspiration after moral purity, but for the sake of 
some ulterior yet perfectly definite and concrete object, to 
gain which he is prepared to sacrifice the immediate gratifi- 
cation of his senses. That this is or may be so, the ex- 
amples I have cited are amply sufficient to establish. They 
show that where the instinct of self-preservation, which 
manifests itself chiefly in the search for food, conflicts or 
appears to conflict with the instinct which conduces to the 
propagation of the species, the former instinct, as the primary 
and more fundamental, is capable of overmastering the latter. 
In other words, primitive man is willing to restrain his sexual 
propensity for the sake of food. Another object for the sake 
of which the savage consents to exercise the same self-restraint 

^ **Next (for hear me out now, 
readers) that I may tell ye whither my 
younger feet wandered ; I betook me 
among those lofty fiiblcs and romances 
which recount in solemn cantos the 
deeds of knighthood founded by our 
victorious kings, and from hence had 
in renown over all Christendom. 
There I read it in the oath of every 
knight, that he should defend to the 

expense of his best blood, or of his 
life, if it so befell him, the honour and 
chastity of virgin or matron ; from 
whence even then I learned what a 
noble virtue chastity sure must be, to 
the defence of which so many worthies, 
by such a dear adventure of themselves, 
had sworn " (Milton, Apology for Smec- 




is victory in war. In an earlier part of this work^ we saw 
that not only the warrior in the field but his friends at 
home will often bridle their sensual appetites from a belief 
that by so doing they will the more easily overcome their 
enemies. The fallacy of such a belief, like the belief 
that the chastity of the sower conduces to the growth 
of the seed, is plain enough to us ; yet perhaps the 
self-restraint which these and the like beliefs, vain and 
false as they are, have imposed on mankind, has not 
been without its utility in bracing and strengthening the 
breed. For strength of character in the race as in the 
individual consists mainly in the power of sacrificing the 
present to the future, of disregarding the immediate tempta- 
tions of ephemeral pleasure for more distant and lasting 
sources of satisfaction. The more the power is exercised 
the higher and stronger becomes the character; till the 
height of heroism is reached in men who sacrifice the 
pleasures of life and even life itself for the sake of keeping 
or winning for others, perhaps in distant ages, the blessings 
of freedom and truth. 

Compared with the Corn-mother of Germany and the 
harvest -Maiden of Scotland, the Demeter and Proserpine 
of Greece are late products of religious growth. But, as 
Aryans, the Greeks must at one time or another have 
observed harvest customs like those which are still practised 
by Celts, Teutons, and Slavs, and which, far beyond the 
limits of the Aryan world, have been practised by the 
Incas of Peru, the Dyaks of Borneo, and the Malays of 
Java, of Sumatra, and of the Peninsula — a sufficient proof 
that the ideas on which these customs rest are not confined 
to any one race, but naturally suggest themselves to all 
untutored peoples engaged in agriculture. It is probable, 
therefore, that Demeter and Proserpine, those stately and 
beautiful figures of Greek mythology, grew out of the same 
simple beliefs and practices which still prevail among our 
modem peasantry, and that they were represented by rude 
dolls made out of the yellow sheaves on many a harvest- 
field long before their breathing images were wrought in 
bronze and marble by the master hands of Phidias and 

> Vol. i. pp. 29, 31 iy., 328. 





Praxiteles. A reminiscence of that olden time — a scent, so 
to say, of the harvest-field — lingered to the last in the title 
of the Maiden {Kore) by which Proserpine was commonly 
known. Thus if the prototype of Demeter is the Corn- 
mother of Germany, the prototype of Proserpine is the harvest- 
Maiden, which, autumn after autumn, is still made from the 
last sheaf on the Braes of Balquhidder. Indeed if we knew 
more about the peasant-farmers of ancient Greece we should 
probably find that even in classical times they continued 
annually to fashion their Corn -mothers (Demeters) and 
Maidens (Proserpines) out of the ripe com on the harvest- 
fields.* But unfortunately the Demeter and Proserpine 
whom we know are the denizens of towns, the majestic 
inhabitants of lordly temples ; it was for such divinities 
alone that the refined writers of antiquity had eyes ; the 
uncouth rites performed by rustics amongst the com were 
beneath their notice. Even if they noticed them, they 
probably never dreamed of any connection between the 
puppet of corn-stalks on the sunny stubble-field and the 
marble divinity in the shady coolness of the temple. Still 
the writings even of these town-bred and cultured persons 
afford us an occasional glimpse of a Demeter as rude as the 
rudest that a remote German village can show. Thus 
the story that lasion begat a child Plutus ("wealth," 
" abundance ") by Demeter on a thrice-ploughed field,* may 
be compared with the West Prussian custom of the mock 
birth of a child on the harvest-field.' In this Prussian 
custom the pretended mother represents the Corn-mother 
(Zytniamatkd) \ the pretended child represents the Corn- 
baby, and the whole ceremony is a charm to ensure a crop 
next year.* The custom and the legend alike point to an 

^ In Theocritus (vii. 155 jy^.) 
mention is made of a Demeter of the 
Threshing-floor with a heap of com 
beside her and sheaves and poppies in 
her hands. Mr. W. H. D. Rouse 
suggested to me that this description 
perhaps applied to a Corn-mother or 
Corn-maiden of the kind referred to in 
the text. In modem times an image of 
Demeter at her old sanctuary of Eleusis 
was regarded by the peasants as 
essential to the prosperity of the crops ; 

it stood in the middle of a threshing, 
floor, and after it had been removed 
by Dr. Clarke in 1802 the people 
lamented that their abundant harvests 
had disappeared with it. See E. 
Dodwell, Tour through Greece^ i. 583 : 
compare K. Chandler, Travels in Grtete^ 
p. 191. 

' Homer, Od, v. 125 //y. ; Hcsiod, 
Thecg, 969 sqq, 

' See above, p. 1 82 sq, 

^ It is passible that a ceremony per- 




older practice of performing, among the sprouting crops in 
spring or the stubble in autumn, one of those real or mimic 
acts of procreation by which, as we have seen, primitive 
man often seeks to infuse his own vigorous life into the 
languid or decaying energies of nature. Another glimpse 
of the savage under the civilised Demeter will be afforded 
farther on, when we come to deal with another aspect of 
these agricultural divinities. 

The reader may have observed that in modern folk- 
customs the corn-spirit is generally represented either by a 
Corn-mother (Old Woman, etc.) or by a Maiden (Harvest- 
child, etc.), not both by a Corn-mother and by a Maiden. 
Why then did the Greeks represent the corn both as a mother 
and a daughter ? 

In the Breton custom the mother-sheaf — a large figure 
made out of the last sheaf with a small corn-doll inside of 
it — clearly represents both the Corn-mother and the Corn- 
daughter, the latter still unborn.^ Again, in the Prussian 
custom just referred to, the woman who plays the part of 
Corn-mother represents the ripe grain ; the child appears to 
represent next year's com, which may be regarded, naturally 
enough, as the child of this year's com, since it is from the 
seed of this year's harvest that next year's crop will spring. 
Further, we have seen that among the Malays of the Peninsula 
and sometimes among the Highlanders of Scotland the spirit 
of the gprain is represented in double female form, both as old 
and young, by means of ears taken alike from the ripe crop : 
in Scotland the old spirit of the com appears as the Carline 
or Cailleach, the young spirit as the Maiden ; while among 
the Malays of the Peninsula the two spirits of the rice are 

formed in a Cjrprian worship of Ariadne 
may have been of this nature. See Plut- 
arch, Theseus^ 20 : /r 5fy rf B\)9iq. rou 
Topnalov ijoip^ Urraiupov i^vrdp^ Kara- 
Kkiphiui^h^ Ttpa rw rear£^«cwr 0tf^y7e0^cu 
kqX wouuf Awtp d>9iPoGcai ywaiKts. We 
have already seen grounds for regarding 
Ariadne as a goddess or spirit of vegeta- 
tion (vol. i. p. 229). If, however, the 
reference is to the Syro- Macedonian 
calendar, in which Gorpiaeus corre- 
sponds to September (Daremberg et 
Saglio, Dict.des Antiquitis^ i. 831), the 

ceremony could not have been a harvest 
celebration, but may have been a vin- 
tage one. Amongst the Minnitarees in 
North America, the Prince of Neuwied 
saw a tall strong woman pretend to 
bring up a stalk of maize out of her 
stomach ; the object of the ceremony 
was to secure a good crop of maize in 
the following year. See Maximilian, 
Prim lu Wied, Reise in das inntre 
Nord'Amerifa^ ii. 269. 

* See above, p. 173. 


Ill OF THE CORN 219 

definitely related to each other as mother and child.^ Judged 
by these analogies Demeter would be the ripe crop of this 
year ; Proserpine would be the seed-corn taken from it and 
sown in autumn, to reappear in spring. The descent of Pro- 
serpine into the lower world* would thus be a mythical 
expression for the sowing of the seed ; her reappearance in 
spring* would signify the sprouting of the young corn. 
In this way the Proserpine of one year becomes the Demeter 
of the next, and this may very well have been the original 
form of the myth. But when with the advance of religious 
thought the com came to be personified, no longer as a 
being that went through the whole cycle of birth, growth, 
reproduction, and death within a year, but as an immortal 
goddess, consistency requires that one of the two personifi- 
cations, the mother or the daughter, should be sacrificed. 
However, the double conception of the com as mother and 
daughter may have been too old and too deeply rooted in 
the popular mind to be eradicated by logic, and so room 
had to be found in the reformed myth both for mother 
and daughter. This was done by assigning to Proserpine 
the character of the com sown in autumn and sprouting in 
spring, while Demeter was left to play the somewhat vague 
part of the heavy mother of the com, who laments its annual 
disappearance underground, and rejoices over its reappear- 
ance in spring. Thus instead of a regular succession of 
divine beings, each living a year and then giving birth to her 
successor, the reformed myth exhibits the conception of two 
divine and immortal beings, one of whom annually disappears 
into and reappears from the ground, while the other has little 
to do but to weep and rejoice at the appropriate seasons. 

This theory of the double personification of the com 
in Greek myth assumes that both personifications (Demeter 
and Proserpine) are original. But if we suppose that the 
Greek myth started with a single personification, the after- 

^ See above, pp. 187 j^^., i^sqq, sowing. But in Sidly her descent 

' Cp. Preller, Gritch, Afythol^ i. seems to have been celebrated when 

763, note 3. In Greece the annual the corn was fully ripe (Diodoms, v. 4), 

descent of Proserpine appears to have that is, in summer. 

taken place at the Great Eleusinian 

M)*steries and at the Thesmophoria, ^ Homer, IJynm to Demticr^ 401 

that is, about the time of the autumn sqq, ; Preller, l.c. 




growth of a second personification may perhaps be explained 
as follows. On looking over the harvest customs which have 
been passed under review, it may be noticed that they involve 
two distinct conceptions of the corn-spirit. For whereas in 
some of the customs the corn-spirit is treated as immanent in 
the corn, in others it is regarded as external to it. Thus 
when a particular sheaf is called by the name of the corn- 
spirit, and is dressed in clothes and handled with reverence,^ 
the spirit is clearly regarded as immanent in the corn. But 
when the spirit is said to make the crops grow by passing 
through them, or to blight the grain of those against whom 
she has a grudge,^ she is apparently conceived as distinct 
from, though exercising power over,' the com. Conceived in 
the latter way the corn-spirit is in a fair way to become a 
deity of the corn, if she has not become so already. Of 
these two conceptions, that of the corn-spirit as immanent in 
the com is doubtless the older, since the view of nature as 
animated by indwelling spirits appears to have generally pre- 
ceded the view of it as controlled by extemal deities ; to 
put it shortly, animism precedes deism. In the harvest cus- 
toms of our European peasantry the corn-spirit appears to 
be conceived now as immanent in the com and now as 
extemal to it In Greek mythology, on the other hand, 
Demeter is viewed rather as the deity of the com than as the 
spirit immanent in it.' The process of thought which leads 
to the change from the one mode of conception to the other 
is anthropomorphism, or the gradual investment of the im- 
manent spirits with more and more of the attributes of 
humanity. As men emerge from savagery the tendency to 
humanise their divinities gains strength ; and the more 
human these become the wider is the breach which severs 
them from the natural objects of which they were at first 
merely the animating spirits or souls. But in the progress 

^ In some places it was customary 
to kneel down before the last sheaf, in 
others to kiss it See W. Mannhardt, 
Kormiiimonen^ p. 26 ; itL^ Mytkolog, 
Forschungen^ p. 339. The custom of 
kneeling and bowing before the last 
corn is said to have been observed, at 
least occasionally, in England. See 
Folk-lore Journal^ vii. (1888), p. 270. 

The Malay sorceress who cut the seven 
ears of rice to form the Rice-child kissed 
the ears after she had cut them (W. W. 
Skeat, Malay Afagic^ p. 241). 

' Above, p. 1 70 sg, 

'In the Homeric Hymn to De- 
meter, she is represented as controlling 
the growth of the corn. See above, 
p. 169. 


Ill OF THE CORN 221 

upwards from savagery, men of the same generation do 
not march abreast ; and though the new anthropomorphic 
gods may satisfy the religious wants of the more developed 
intelligences, the backward members of the community will 
cling by preference to the old animistic notions. Now when 
the spirit of any natural object such as the corn has been 
invested with human qualities, detached from the object, and 
converted into a deity controlling it, the object itself is, by 
the withdrawal of its spirit, left inanimate ; it becomes, so to 
say, a spiritual vacuum. But the popular fancy, intolerant 
of such a vacuum, in other words, unable to conceive any- 
thing as inanimate, immediately creates a fresh mythical 
being, with which it peoples the vacant object Thus the 
same natural object comes to be represented in mythology 
by two distinct beings ; first, by the old spirit now separated 
from it and raised to the rank of a deity ; second, by the 
new spirit, freshly created by the popular fancy to supply 
the place vacated by the old spirit on its elevation to a 
higher sphere. The problem for mythology now is, having 
got two distinct personifications of the same object, what 
to do with them ? How are their relations to each other 
to be adjusted, and room found for both in the mythological 
system ? When the old spirit or new deity is conceived as 
creating or producing the object in question, the problem is 
easily solved. Since the object is believed to be produced 
by the old spirit, and animated by the new one, the latter, as 
the soul of the object, must also owe its existence to the 
former ; thus the old spirit will stand to the new one as pro- 
ducer to produced, that is, in mythology, as parent to child, 
and if both spirits are conceived as female, their relation will 
be that of mother and daughter. In this way, starting from 
a single personification of the com as female, mythic fancy 
might in time reach a double personification of it as mother 
and daughter. It would be very rash to affirm that this was 
the way in which the myth of Demeter and Proserpine 
actually took shape ; but it seems a legitimate conjecture 
that the reduplication of deities, of which Demeter and Pro- 
serpine furnish an example, may sometimes have arisen in the 
way indicated. For example, among the pairs of deities 
whom we have been considering, it has been shown that there 


are grounds for regarding both Isis and her companion god 
Osiris as personifications of the corn.^ On the hypothesis just 
suggested, Isis would be the old corn-spirit, and Osiris would 
be the newer one, whose relationship to the old spirit was vari- 
ously explained as that of brother, husband, and son ; * for of 
course mythology would always be free to account for the 
coexistence of the two divinities in more ways than one. 
Further, this hypothesis offers at least a possible explanation 
of the relation of Virbius to the Arician Diana. The latter, 
as we have seen,* was a tree-goddess ; and if, as I have con- 
jectured, the Flamen Virbialis was no other than the priest of 
Nemi himself, that is, the King of the Wood, Virbius must 
also have been a tree-spirit. On the present hypothesis he 
was the newer tree-spirit, whose relation to the old tree-spirit 
(Diana) was explained by representing him as her favourite 
or lover. It must not, however, be forgotten that this pro- 
posed explanation of such pairs of deities as Demeter and 
Proserpine, Isis and Osiris, Diana and Virbius, is purely con- 
jectural, and is only given for what it is worth. 

§ 9. Lityerses 

In the preceding pages an attempt has been made to 
show that in the Corn-mother and harvest-Maiden of Nor- 
thern Europe we have the prototypes of Demeter and 
Proserpine. But an essential feature is still wanting to com- 
plete the resemblance. A leading incident in the Greek 
myth is the death and resurrection of Proserpine ; it is this 
incident which, coupled with the nature of the goddess as a 
deity of vegetation, links the myth with the cults of Adonis, 
Attis, Osiris, and Dionysus ; and it is in virtue of this 
incident that the myth is considered in this chapter. It 
remains, therefore, to see whether the conception of the 
annual death and resurrection of a god, which figures so pro- 
minently in these great Greek and Oriental worships, has not 
also its origin in the rustic rites observed by reapers and 
vine-dressers amongst the corn-shocks and the vines. 

^ See above, pp. 141 sqq.^ 145 sq. 
2 VzM\yt Real- E ncyclopddie der class. Allertkumswissenschaft, v. loil. 

' Vol. i. p. 230 sq. 







Our general ignorance of the popular superstitions and 
customs of the ancients has already been confessed. But 
the obscurity which thus • hangs over the first beginnings of 
ancient religion is fortunately dissipated to some extent in 
the present case. The worships of Osiris, Adonis, and Attis 
had their respective seats, as we have seen, in Egypt, Syria, 
and Phrygia ; and in each of these countries certain harvest 
and vintage customs are known to have been observed, the 
resemblance of which to each other and to the national rites 
struck the ancients themselves, and, compared with the har- 
vest customs of modem peasants and barbarians, seems to 
throw some light on the origin of the rites in question. 

It has been already mentioned, on the authority of Diodorus, 
that in ancient Egypt the reapers were wont to lament over 
the first sheaf cut, invoking Isis as the goddess to whom they 
owed the discovery of com.^ To the plaintive song or cry 
sung or uttered by Egyptian reapers the Greeks gave the 
name of Maneros, and explained the name by a story that 
Maneros, the only son of the first Egyptian king, invented 
agriculture, and, dying an untimely death, was thus lamented 
by the people.^ It appears, however, that the name Maneros 
is due to the misunderstanding of the formula ntdd-ne-hra^ 
"come thou back," which has been discovered in various 
Egyptian writings, for example in the dirge of Isis in the 
Book of the Dead.* Hence we may suppose that the cry 
mdA-ne-hra was chanted by the reapers over the cut corn as 
a dirge for the death of the corn-spirit (Isis or Osiris) and a 
prayer for its return. As the cry was raised over the first 
ears reaped, it would seem that the corn-spirit was believed 
by the Egyptians to be present in the first com cut and to 
die under the sickle. We have seen ' that in the Malay 
Peninsula and Java the first ears of rice are taken to repre- 
sent either the Soul of the Rice or the Rice-bride and the 

^ Diodorus, i. 14, in 7^ koX pvp 
card t6p Bt/nfffidf Todt xpiirrovt d/ii^/yrat 
rrdxvs B^yrat rodt dp$ptbrovt K&rrtoBai, 
xXrialop ToG SpdyfULTot koI ri^^Itf'cr dra- 
jcaXcii0-^cu cr.X. For 04mt we should 
perhaps read at/r^errai, which is sup- 
ported by the following Sfidy/taros. 

^ Herodotus, ii. 79; Pollux, iv. 54; 
Pausanias, ix. 29. 7 ; Athenaeus, xiv. p. 

620 A. 

' Bnigsch, Adonisklcge und Linos- 
lied^ p. 24. According to another 
interpretation, however, Maneros is the 
Egyptian manurosh, ''Let us be merry. " 
See Lauth, " Ueber den agyptischen 
Maneros," Siitungiberiehte der konigi, 
hayer, Akademie der Wissenschaften tii 
MUncken^ 1869, ii. 163-194. 


Rice-bridegroom.^ In parts of Russia the first sheaf is 
treated much in the same way that the last sheaf is treated 
elsewhere. It is reaped by the mistress herself, taken home r 
and set in the place of honour near the holy pictures ; after- 
wards it is threshed separately, and some of its grain is » 
mixed with the next year's seed-corn.^ 

In Phoenicia and Western Asia a plaintive song, like 
that chanted by the Egyptian corn-reapers, was sung at the 
vintage and probably (to judge by analogy) also at harvest i « 
This Phoenician song was called by the Greeks Linus or l 
Ailinus and explained, like Maneros, as a lament for the death 
of a youth named Linus.* According to one story Linus 
was brought up by a shepherd, but torn to pieces by his 
dogs.^ But, like Maneros, the name Linus or Ailinus ap- 
pears to have originated in a verbal misunderstanding, and 
to be nothing more than the cry at lanu^ that is ** woe to us," 
which the Phoenicians probably uttered in mourning for 
Adonis';^ at least Sappho seems to have regarded Adonis 
and Linus as equivalent.^ 

In Bithynia a like mournful ditty, called Bormus or 
Borimus, was chanted by Mariandynian reapers. Bormus 
was said to have been a handsome youth, the son of King 
Upias or of a wealthy and distinguished man. One summer 
day, watching the reapers at work in his fields, he went to 
fetch them a drink of water and was never heard of more. 
So the reapers sought for him, calling him in plaintive strains, 
which they continued to chant at harvest ever afterwards." 

In Phrygia the corresponding song, sung by harvesters 
both at reaping and at threshing, was called Lityerses. Ac- 
cording to one story, Lityerses was a bastard son of Midas, 
King of Phrygia. He used to reap the com, and had an 
enormous appetite. When a stranger happened to enter the 
corn-field or to pass by it, Lityerses gave him plenty to eat 
and drink, then took him to the corn-fields on the banks of 

1 Above, pp. 199 J^., 201 sq. Idyl, iii. 1 ; Callimachus, Hymn to 

' Kabton, Songs of the Russian Apollo^ 20. 
PecpUy p. 249 sq, * Conon, l,c, 

* Homer, 77. xviii. 570; Hcrodo- * W. Mannhardt, A,W,F, p. 281. 

tus, ii. 79 ; Pausanias, ix. 29 ; Conon, * Pausanias, /.<*. 

Narrat. 19. For the form Ailinus sec ^ Pollux, iv. 54; Athenaeus, xiv. pp. 

Suidas, s.v,\ Euripides, Orestts^ 1395 ; 619 F-620 A ; Hesychios, sw, Bwp/Aor 

Sophocles, Ajax^ 627. Cp. Moschus, and Mapcar^vr^ Bptfpot, 


the Maeander and compelled him to reap along with him. 
Lastly, he used to wrap the stranger in a sheaf, cut off his 
head with a sickle, and carry away his body, wrapt in the 
corn stalks. But at last he was himself slain by Hercules, 
* who threw his body into the river.^ As Hercules was prob- 
ably reported to have slain Lityerses in the same way that 
Lityerses slew others (as Theseus treated Sinis and Sciron), 
we may infer that Lityerses used to throw the bodies of his 
victims into the river. According to another version of the 
story, Lityerses, a son of Midas, used to challenge peoplero a 
reaping match with him, and if he vanquished them he used 
to thrash them ; but one diay he met with a stronger reaper, 
who slew him.* 

There are some grounds for supposing that in these 
stories of Lityerses we have the description of a Phrygian 
harvest custom in accordance with which certain persons, 
especially strangers passing the harvest field, were regularly 
regarded as embodiments of the corn-spirit and as such were 
seized by the reapers, wrapt in sheaves, and beheaded, their 
bodies, bound up in the corn-stalks, being afterwards thrown 
into water as a rain-charm. The grounds for this sup- 
position are, first, the resemblance of the Lityerses story to 
the harvest customs of European peasantry, and, second, the 
frequency of human sacrifices offered by savage races to pro- 
mote the fertility of the fields. We will examine these 
grounds successively, beginning with the former. 

In comparing the story with the harvest customs of 
Europe,* three points deserve special attention, namely : L 
the reaping match and the binding of persons in the sheaves ; 
IL the killing of the corn-spirit or his representatives; IIL 
the treatment of visiters to the harvest-field or of strangers 
passing it. 

L In regard to the first head, we have seen that in 
modern Europe the person who cuts or binds or threshes the 

1 The story was told by Sositheus in IMyers€S ; Apostolius, x. 74. Photius 

his play of Daphnis, His verses have mentions the sickle. Lityerses is the 

been preserved in the tract of an anony- subject of a special study by Mannhardt 

mous writer. See Scriptores rerum {Mytkologiscke Forschu$tgen^ p. I x^^.), 

mirabilium Graeci^ cd. Westermann, whom I follow, 
p. 220; also Athenaeus, x. p. 415 B; ' Pollux, iv. 54. 

Schol. on Theocritus, x. 41 ; Photius, ' In this comparison I closely follow 

Lexicon^ Suidas, and Hesychius, s,v, Mannhardt, Myth, Forsch, p. 18 sqq, 

VOL. 11 Q 



last sheaf is often exposed to rough treatment at the hands 
of his fellow-labourers. For example, he is bound up in the 
last sheaf, and, thus encased, is carried or carted about, 
beaten, drenched with water, thrown on a dunghill, and so i 
forth. Or, if he is spared this horseplay, he is at least 
the subject of ridicule or is thought to be destined to suffer 
some misfortune in the course of the year. Hence the 
harvesters are naturally reluctant to give the last cut at 
reaping or the last stroke at threshing or to bind the 
last sheaf, and towards the close of the work this reluc- 
tance produces an emulation among the labourers, each 
striving to finish his task as fast as possible, in order that 
he may escape the invidious distinction of being last.^ For 
example, In the neighbourhood of Danzig, when the winter 
com is cut and mostly bound up in sheaves, the portion 
which still remains to be bound is divided amongst the 
women binders, each of whom receives a swath of equal 
length to bind. A crowd of reapers, children, and idlers 
gathers round to witness the contest, and at the word, 
" Seize the Old Man," the women fall to work, all binding 
their allotted swaths as hard as they can. The spectators 
watch them narrowly, and the woman who cannot keep pace 
with the rest and consequently binds the last sheaf has to 
carry the Old Man (that is, the last sheaf made up in the form 
of a man) to the farmhouse and deliver it to the farmer with 
the words, " Here I bring you the Old Man." At the supper 
which follows, the Old Man is placed at the table and receives 
an abundant portion of food, which, as he cannot eat it, falls 
to the share of the woman who carried him. Afterwards the 
Old Man is placed in the yard and all the people dance 
round him. Or the woman who bound the last sheaf dances 
for a good while with the Old Man, while the rest form a 
ring round them ; afterwards they all, one after the other, 
dance a single round with him. Further, the woman who 
bound the last sheaf goes herself by the name of the Old 

^ Cp. above, pp. 172, 179 jf., 181 sq, tion for the honour of cuUing it, and 

On the other hand, thelast sheaf b some- handfuls of standing corn used to be 

times an object of desire and emulation. hidden under sheaves in order that the 

Seep. 173 J^. It is so at Balquhidder last to be uncovered should form the 

also (/i>//6-/<>r^yw/rritf/, vi. 269) ; and it Maiden. — (From the information of 

was formerly so on the Gareloch, Dum- Archie Leitch. See p. 185, note 2.) 
bartonshire, where there was a competi- 

; \ 


Man till the next harvest, and is often mocked with the cry, 
" Here comes the Old Man." ^ At Aschbach in Bavaria, 
when the reaping is nearly finished, the reapers say, " Now, 
we will drive out the Old Man." Each of them sets himself 
to reap a patch of com as fast as he can ; he who cuts 
the last handful or the last stalk is greeted by the rest 
with an exulting cry, "You have the Old Man." Some- 
times a black mask is fastened on the reaper's face and he 
is dressed in woman's clothes ; or if the reaper is a woman, 
she is dressed in man's clothes. A dance follows. At the 
supper the Old Man gets twice as large a portion of food as 
the others. At threshing, the proceedings are the same ; 
the person who gives the last stroke is said to have the 
Old Man.^ 

These examples illustrate the contests in reaping, thresh^ 
ing, and binding which take place amongst the harvesters, 
from their unwillingness to suffer the ridicule and discomfort 
incurred by the one who happens to finish his work last. It 
will be remembered that the person who is last at reaping, 
binding, or threshing, is regarded as the representative 
of the corn-spirit,* and this idea is more fully expressed by 
binding him or her in corn-stalks. The latter custom has 
been already illustrated, but a few more instances may be 
added. At Kloxin, near Stettin, the harvesters call out to 
the woman who binds the last sheaf, " You have the Old 
Man, and must keep him." The Old Man is a great bundle 
of com decked with flowers and ribbons, and fashioned into 
a rude semblance of the human form. It is fastened on a 
rake or strapped on a horse, and brought with music to the 
village. In delivering the Old Man to the farmer, the 
woman says — 

<< Here, dear Sir, is the Old Man. 
He can stay no longer on the field. 
He can hide himself no longer, 
He must come into the village. 
Ladies and gentlemen, pray be so kind 
As to give the Old Man a present" 

^ W. ^fannhardt, Afyth. Forsch, p. deutsckcn Mytkolo^e^ iu p. 2 1 7, § 

19 J'/- 397. 

* Ibid, p. 20 ; Panzer, BHtrag tur ' Above, p. 190. 




Fifty or sixty years ago the custom was to tie up the 
woman herself in pease-straw, and bring her with music to 
the farmhouse, where the harvesters danced with her till the 
pease-straw fell off.^ In other villages round Stettin, when 
the last harvest-waggon is being loaded, there is a regular 
race amongst the women, each striving not to be last. For 
she who places the last sheaf on the waggon is called the 
Old Man, and is completely swathed in corn-stalks ; she is 
also decked with flowers, and flowers and a helmet of straw 
are placed on her head. In solemn procession she carries 
the harvest-crown to the squire, over whose head she holds it 
while she utters a string of good wishes. At the dance which 
follows, the Old Man has the right to choose his, or rather 
her, partner ; it is an honour to dance with him.* At 
Blankenfelde, in the district of Potsdam, the woman who 
binds the last sheaf at the rye-harvest is saluted with the 
cry, " You have the Old Man." A woman is then tied up 
in the last sheaf in such a way that only her head is left 
free; her hair also is covered with a cap made of rye- 
stalks, adorned with ribbons and flowers. She is called 
the Harvest-man, and must keep dancing in front of the 
last harvest-waggon till it reaches the squire's house, where 
she receives a present and is released from her envelope 
of com.* At Gommem, near Magdeburg, the reaper who 
cuts the last ears of com is often wrapt up in corn-stalks 
so completely that it is hard to sec whether there is a 
man in the bundle or not Thus wrapt up he is taken 
by another stalwart reaper on his back, and carried round 
the field amidst the joyous cries of the harvesters.* At 
Neuhausen, near Merseburg, the person who binds the 
last sheaf is wrapt in ears of oats and saluted as the 
Oats-man, whereupon the others dance round him.* At 
Brie, Isle de France, the farmer himself is tied up in the^rj/ 
sheaf.* At the harvest-home at Udvarhely, Transylvania, a 
person is encased in corn-stalks, and wears on his head a 
crown made out of the last ears cut. On reaching the 
village he is soused with water over and over." At Dingelstedt, 
in the district of Erfurt, about sixty years ago it was the 

* \V. Mannhardt, Myth, Forsch, j). 22. 
* litid. p. 23. * Jbid. p. 23 sq. 

* Ibid. p. 22. 
• Ibid. p. 24. 

' Ibid. p. 22 sq, 
' Ibid. p. 24. 

; \ 



custom to tie up a man in the last sheaf. He was called the 
Old Man, and was brought home on the last waggon, amid 
huzzas and music. On reaching the farmyard he was rolled 
round the barn and drenched with water.^ At Nordlingen in 
Bavaria the man who gives the last stroke at threshing Is 
wrapt in straw and rolled on the threshing-floor.^ In some 
parts of Oberpfalz, Bavaria, he is said to " get the Old Man," 
is wrapt in straw, and carried to a neighbour who has not yet 
finished his threshing.' In Thiiringen a sausage is stuck in 
the last sheaf at threshing, and thrown, with the sheaf, on the 
threshing-floor. It is called the Barrenwurst or Bazenwurst^ 
and is eaten by all the threshers. After they have eaten it a 
man is encased in pease-straw, and thus attired is led through 
the village.* 

''In all these cases the idea is that the spirit of the 
com — the Old Man of vegetation — is driven out of the com 
last cut or last threshed, and lives in the bam during the 
winter. At sowing-time he goes out again to the iields to 
resume his activity as animating force among the sprouting 


Ideas of the same sort appear to attach to the last com 
in India. At Hoshangibid, in Central India, when the reaping 
is nearly done, a patch of com, about a rood in extent, is left 
standing in the cultivator's last field,and the reapers rest a little. 
Then they msh at this remnant, tear it up, and cast it into the 
air, shouting victory to one or other of the local gods, according 
to their religious persuasion. A sheaf is made out of this 
com, tied to a bamboo, set up in the last harvest cart, and 
carried home in triumph. Here it is fastened up in the 
threshing-floor or attached to a tree or to the cattle-shed, 
where its services are held to be essential for the purpose of 
averting the evil-eye.* A like custom prevails in the eastern 
districts of the North- Western Provinces of India. Sometimes 
a little patch is left untilled as a refuge for the field-spirit ; 
sometimes it is sown, and when the com of this patch has 

1 W.Mannhardt,.li>M./brxrA.p.24. * C. A. Elliot, Hoshangdbdd StttU- 

' Jbid. p. 24 sif. metit Report^ p. 1 78, quoted in Ponjah 

s IbitL p. 25. Notes attd Qutries, ui. \\ 8, 168 ; W. 

* Witzschel, Sagen^ Sitten und Ge- Crooke, Introduction to the Popular 

braucke aus TTkuringen^ p. 223. Religiofi and Folklore of Nortkeru 

^ W. Mannhardt, op. eit. p. 25 sq, India^ p. 382 sq. 


been reaped with a rush and a shout, it is presented to the 
priest, who offers it to the local gods or bestows it on a 

II. Passing to the second point of comparison between 
the Lityerses story and European harvest customs, we have 
now to see that in the latter the corn-spirit is often believed 
to be killed at reaping or threshing. In the Romsdal and 
Other parts of Norway, when the haymaking is over, the 
people say that " the Old Hay-man has been killed." In y 

some parts of Bavaria the man who gives the last stroke 
at threshing is said to have killed the Corn-man, the Oats- • 
man, or the Wheat-man, according to the crop.* In the 
Canton of Tillot, in Lothringen, at threshing the last corn 
the men keep time with their flails, calling out as they 
thresh, " We are killing the Old Woman ! We are killing 
the Old Woman ! " If there is an old woman in the house i 
she is warned to save herself, or she will be struck dead.* | 
Near Ragnit, in Lithuania, the last handful of com is left 
standing by itself, with the words, " The Old Woman {Bobd) 
is sitting in there." Then a young reaper whets his scythe, 
and, with a strong sweep, cuts down the handful. It is now 
said of him that " he has cut off the Boba's head " ; and he 
receives a gratuity from the farmer and a jugful of water over 
his head from the farmer's wife.* According to another 
account, every Lithuanian reaper makes haste to finish his 
task ; for the Old Rye-woman lives in the last stalks, and 
whoever cuts the last stalks kills the Old Rye-woman, and 
by killing her he brings trouble on himself.* In Wilkischken 
(district of Tilsit) the man who cuts the last com goes by 
the name of " The killer of the Rye-woman." • In Lithuania, 
again, the corn-spirit is believed to be killed at threshing as 
well as at reaping. When only a single pile of com remains 
to be threshed, all the threshers suddenly step back a few 
paces, as if at the word of command. Then they fall to work, 
plying their flails with the utmost rapidity and vehemence, 
till they come to the last bundle. Upon this they fling 
themselves with almost frantic fury, straining every nerve, 
and raining blows on it till the word " Halt ! " rings out 

* W. Crooke, op, cit, p. 383. * W. Mannhardt, Afyth. Forsch. p. 31. 

3 /bid, p. 334. « Ibid, p. 330. * Ibid. • IHd, p. 331. 


sharply from the leader. The man whose flail is the last to 
fall after the command to stop has been given is immediately 
surrounded by all the rest, crying out that " he has struck 
the Old Rye-woman dead." He has to expiate the deed by 
treating them to brandy ; and, like the man who cuts the 
last corn, he is known as "the killer of the Old Rye- 
woman." ^ Sometimes in Lithuania the slain corn-spirit was 
represented by a puppet. Thus a female figure was made 
out of corn-stalks, dressed in clothes, ^ and placed on the 
threshing-floor, under the heap of corn which was to be 
threshed last. Whoever thereafter gave the last stroke at 
threshing " struck the Old Woman dead." * We have already 
met with examples of burning the figure which represents 
the corn-spirit.* Sometimes, again, the corn-spirit is repre- 
sented by a man, who lies down under the last com ; it is 
threshed upon his body, and the people say that " the Old 
Man is being beaten to death." * We have already seen that 
sometimes the farmer's wife is thrust, together with the last 
sheaf, under the threshing-machine, as if to thresh her, and 
that afterwards a pretence is made of winnowing her.* At 
Volders, in the Tyrol, husks of corn are stuck behind the 
neck of the man who gives the last stroke at threshing, and 
he is throttled with a straw garland. If he is tall, it is 
believed that the corn will be tall next year. Then he 
is tied on a bundle and flung into the riven* In Carinthia, 
the thresher who gave the last stroke, and the person who 
untied the last sheaf on the threshing-floor, are bound hand 
and foot with straw bands, and crowns of straw are placed 
on their heads. Then they are tied, face to face, on a 
sledge, dragged through the village, and flung into a brook.^ 
The custom of throwing the representative of the corn-spirit 
into a stream, like that of drenching him with water, is, 
as usual, a rain-charm.^ 

III. Thus far the representatives of the corn-spirit have 
generally been the man or woman who cuts, binds, or 

* W. Mannhardt, Myth, Forsch, p. ^ Above, p. 1 82. 

335- G \v. Mannhardt, M.F. p. 50. 

* Ibid. p. 335. ^ '' 

3 Above, pp. 173, 181, 193. ^ ^^i<^- P- S© ^• 

^ W. Mannhardt, Komdamofun^ p. * See above, pp. 121 s^q,^ 171, 174, 

26. I79f 180. 


threshes the last com. We now come to the cases in which 
the corn-spirit is represented either by a stranger passing 
the harvest-field (as in the Lityerses tale), or by a visiter \ 
entering it for the first time. All over Germany it is 
customary for the reapers or threshers to lay hold of ; 
passing strangers and bind them with a rope made of 
corn-stalks, till they pay a forfeit ; and when the farmer I 
himself or one of his guests enters the field or the threshing- 
floor for the first time, he is treated in the same way. i \ 
Sometimes the rope is only tied round his arm or his feet 
or his neck.* But sometimes he is regularly swathed in 
com. Thus at Solor in Norway, whoever enters the field, 
be he the master or a stranger, is tied up in a sheaf and 
must pay a ransom. In the neighbourhood of Soest, when 
the farmer visits the flax-pullers for the first time, he is 
completely enveloped in flax. Passers-by arc also sur- 
rounded by the women, tied up in flax, and compelled to 
stand brandy.* At Nordlingen strangers are caught with 
straw ropes and tied up in a sheaf till they pay a forfeit.' 
In Anhalt, when the proprietor or one of his family, the 
steward, or even a stranger enters the harvest-field for the 
first time after the reaping has begun, the wife of the chief 
reaper ties a rope twisted of corn-ears, or a nosegay made 
of com-ears and flowers, to his arm, and he is obliged to 
.ransom himself by the payment of a fine.* In the canton of 
Putanges, in Normandy, the custom of tying up the owner 
of the land in the last sheaf of wheat is still practised, or at 
least was still practised some thirteen or fourteen years ago. 
The task falls to the women alone. They throw themselves 
on the proprietor, seize him by the arms, the legs, and the 
body, throw him to the ground, and stretch him on the last 
sheaf. Then a pretence is made of binding him, and the 
conditions to be observed at the harvest-supper are dictated 
to him. When he has accepted them, he is released and 
allowed to get up.* At Brie, Isle de France, when any one 

^ \V. Mannhardt, op, cit, p. 32 * O. Hartung, '*Zur Volkskunde aus 

sqg. Compare Revtu dis Traditions Anhalt/' Ziitschrift dis Vereitu fiir 

populaires^ iii. (1888), p. 598. Volkskunde^ vii. (1897), p. 153. 

* W. Mannhardt, MythcL Forsch, p. * J. Lecceur, Esquisses du Socage 

35 J^. Norftiand^ ii. 240 sq, (Conde-sur- 

' Ibid. p. 36. Noireau, 1887). 


who does not belong to the farm passes by the harvest-field, 
the reapers give chase. If they catch him, they bind him in 
a sheaf and bite him, one after the other, in the forehead, 
crying, " You shall carry the key of the field." ^ " To have 
the key" is an expression used by harvesters elsewhere in 
the sense of to cut or bind or thresh the last sheaf ; * hence, 
it is equivalent to the phrases "You have the Old Man," 
" You are the Old Man," which are addressed to the cutter, 
binder, or thresher of the last sheaf. Therefore, when a 
stranger, as at Brie, is tied up in a sheaf and told that 
he will " carry the key of the field," it is as much as to say 
that he is the Old Man, that is, an embodiment of the corn- 

Thus, like Lityerses, modem reapers lay hold of a passing 
stranger and tie him up in a sheaf. It is not to be expected 
that they should complete the parallel by cutting off his head ; 
but if they do not take such a strong step, their language 
and gestures are at least indicative of a desire to do so. For 
instance, in Mecklenburg on the first day of reaping, if the 
master or mistress or a stranger enters the field, or merely 
passes by it, all the mowers face towards him and sharpen 
their scythes, clashing their whet-stones against them in 
unison, as if they were making ready to mow. Then the 
woman who leads the mowers steps up to him and ties 
a band round his left arm. He must ransom himself by 
payment of a forfeit.' Near Ratzeburg, when the master 
or other person of mark enters the field or passes by it, 
all the harvesters stop work and march towards him in a 
body, the men with their scythes in front. On meeting him 
they form up in line, men and women. The men stick the 
poles of their scythes in the ground, as they do in whetting 
them ; then they take off their caps and hang them on the 
scythes, while their leader stands forward and makes a 
speech. When he has done, they all whet their scythes in 
measured time very loudly, after which they put on their 
caps. Two of the women binders then come fonvard ; one 
of them ties the master or stranger (as the case may be) 

* Mannhardt, MythoL Forsch, p. 36. the same purpose as the ** knot " in 

* For the evidence, see ibid. p. 36, the Cingalese custom, as to which see 
note 2. The " key" in the European vol. i. p. 400 sq, 

custom is probably intended to serve ' W. Mannhardt, op, cif, p. 39. 


with corn-ears or with a silken band ; the other delivers 
a rhyming address. The following are specimens of the 
speeches made by the reaper on these occasions. In some 
parts of Pomerania every passer-by is stopped, his way being 
barred with a corn-rope. The reapers form a circle round 
him and sharpen their scythes, while their leader says — 

" The men are ready, 
The scythes are bent. 
The com is great and small, ! \ 

The gentleman must be mowed." 

Then the process of whetting the scythes is repeated.^ At 
Ramin, in the district of Stettin, the stranger, standing 
encircled by the reapers, is thus addressed — 

*' We'll stroke the gentleman 
With our naked sword. 
Wherewith we shear meadows and fields. 
We shear princes and lords. 
Labourers are often athirst ; 
If the gentleman will stand beer and brandy 
The joke will soon be over. 
But, if our prayer he does not like. 
The sword has a right to strike." ^ 

That in these customs the whetting of the scythes is 
really meant as a preliminary to mowing appears from the 
following variation of the preceding customs. In the district 
of Liineburg when any one enters the harvest-field, he is 
asked whether he will engage a good fellow. If he says 
yes, the harvesters mow some swaths, yelling and screaming, 
and then ask him for drink-money.* 

On the threshing-floor strangers are also regarded as 
embodiments of the corn-spirit, and are treated accordingly. 
At Wiedingharde in Schleswig when a stranger comes to 
the threshing-floor he is asked, " Shall I teach you the flail- 
dance ? " If he says yes, they put the arms of the threshing- 
flail round his neck as if he were a sheaf of com, and press 
them together so tight that he is nearly chocked.* In 

^ W. Mannhardt, Myth, Porsch, p. or the master, see ibid, p. 4 1 ; Lemke, 
39 sq, Volksthiimliches in Ostpreussen^ i. 23 jy. 

' W. Mannhardt, Myth, Porsch, p. 

' Ibid. p. 40. For the speeches made 4 1 sq, 
by the woman who binds the stranger * W. Mannhardt, op. cit, p. 42. 




some parishes of Wermland (Sweden), when a stranger enters 
the threshing-floor where the threshers are at work, they say 
that " they will teach him the threshing-song." Then they 
put a flail round his neck and a straw rope about his body. 
Also, as we have seen, if a stranger woman enters the 
threshing-floor, the threshers put a flail round her body and 
a wreath of corn-stalks round her neck, and call out, " See 
the Corn -woman! See! that is how the Corn -maiden 
looks 1 " ^ 

In these customs, observed both on the harvest-field and 
on the threshing-floor, a passing stranger is regarded as a 
personification of the corn, in other words, as the corn-spirit ; 
and a show is made of treating him like the com by mow- 
ing, binding, and threshing him. If the reader still doubts 
whether European peasants can really reg^ard a passing 
stranger in this light, the following custom should set their 
doubts at rest. During the madder-harvest in the Dutch 
province of Zealand a stranger passing by a field where the 
people are digging the madder-roots will sometimes call out 
to them Koortspillers (a term of reproach). Upon this, two 
of the fleetest runners make after him, and, if they catch 
him, they bring him back to the madder-field and bury him 
in the earth up to his middle at least, jeering at him the 
while ; then they ease nature before his face.' This last act 
is to be explained as follows. The spirit of the com and 
of other cultivated plants is sometimes conceived, not as 
immanent in the plant, but as its owner ; hence the cutting of 
the corn at harvest, the digging of the roots, and the gather- 
ing of fmit from the fruit-trees are each and all of them acts 
of spoliation, which strip him of his property and reduce him 
to poverty. Hence he is often known as " the Poor Man " 
or "the Poor Woman." Thus in the neighbourhood of 

1 W. Mannhardt, op, at, p. 42. See 
above, p. 182. In Thuringen a being 
called the Rush-cutter u-sed to he much 
dreaded. On the morning of St. John's 
Day he was wont to walk through the 
fields with sickles tied to his ankles 
cutting avenues in thecomas he walked. 
To detect him, seven bundles of brush- 
wood were silently threshed with the flail 
on the threshing-floor, and the stranger 

who appeared at the door of the bam dar- 
ing the threshing was the Rush-cutter. 
See Witzschel, Sai^rtt, Sitten und Gt- 
briiuehf aus Tkiiri9tg€ft, p. 221. With 
the Bhisensthneider compare the Bil^ 
Schneider and Biberschneider (Panzer, 
Beitrag utr deutschen Mythohf^e^ ii. 
p. 210 jy. §§372-378.) 

^ \V. Mannhardt, op, eit, p. 47 jy. 




Eisenach a small sheaf is sometimes left standing on the 
field for "the Poor Old Woman." ^ At Marksuhl, near 
Eisenach, the puppet formed out of the last sheaf is itself 
called " the Poor Woman." At Alt Lest in Silesia the man 
who binds the last sheaf is called the Beggar-man.^ In a 
village near Roeskilde, in Zealand (Denmark), old-fashioned 
peasants sometimes make up the last sheaf into a rude 
puppet, which is called the Rye-beggar." In Southern 
Schonen the sheaf which is bound last is called the Beggar ; 
it is made bigger than the rest and is sometimes dressed 
in clothes. In the district of Olmiitz the last sheaf is called 
the Beggar ; it is given to an old woman, who must carry it 
home, limping on one foot* Thus when the spirit of vege- 
tation IS conceived as a being who is robbed of his store and 


^ W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 48. To 
prevent a rationalistic explanation of 
this custom, which, like most rational- 
istic explanations of folk-custom, would 
be wrong, it may be pointed out that a 
little of the crop is sometimes left on the 
field for the spirit under othernames than 
" the Poor Old Woman." Thus in a vil- 
lage of the Tilsit district, the last sheaf 
was left standing on the field " for the 
Old Rye-woman" {M.F, p. 337). In 
Neftenbach (Canton of Zurich) the first 
three ears of com reaped are thrown 
away on the field '* to satisfy the Corn- 
mother and to make the next year's 
crop abundant " {ibid, ). In Thiiringen 
when the after-grass {Grttmmei) is 
being got in, a little heap is left lying 
on the field ; it belongs to ** the Little 
Wood-woman*** in return for the bless- 
ing she has bestowed (Witzschel, 
Sagen^ Sitten umi Gebr&uche aus 
miringen^ p. 224). At Kupferberg, 
Bavaria, some com is left standing on 
the field when the rest has been cut. 
Of this corn left standing, they say 
that *<it belongs to the Old Woman," 
to whom it is dedicated in the follow- 
ing words — 

" We give it to the Old Wonum ; 
She shall keep it. 
Next )'car may she be to u<( 
As kind as this time she has been.'* 

M,F. p. 337 sq. These last expressions 
are quite conclusive. See also Mann- 
hardt, Komdimotitn^ ^, 1 sq. In 

Russia a patch of unreaped com is 
left in th^ field and the ears are knotted 
together; this is called **the plaiting 
of the beard of Volos." "The un- 
reaped patch is looked upon as ta- 
booed ; and it is believed that if any 
one meddles with it he will shrivel up, 
and become twisted like the inter- 
woven ears" (Ralston, Songs of the 
Russiixn People^ p. 251). In the north- 
east of Scotland a few stalks were 
sometimes left unreaped for the bene- 
fit of «*the auP man" (W. Gregor, 
Folk-lore of the North-East of Scotland^ 
p. 182). Here **the aul' man'* is 
probably the equivalent of the Old Man 
{der Alte) of Germany. At Lindau in 
Anhalt the reapers used to leave some 
stalks standing in the last comer of the 
last field for the '* Com-woman {/Com- 
mume) to eat " (Zeitschrift des Vereins 
far Volkskunde, vii. (1 897), p. 1 54). In 
some parts of Bavaria three handfuls 
of flax were left on the field '* for the 
Wood-woman " {Bavaria^ Landes and 
Volkskunde des Konigreichs Bayem^ 
iiL 343 sq, ). In the island of Nias, to 
prevent the depredations of wandering 
spirits among the rice at harvest, a 
miniature field is dedicated to them in 
which are sown all the plants that grow 
in the real fields (E. Modigliani, Un 
Viaggio a Nliu, p. 593). 

« M.F. p. 48. 

* Ibid. p. 48 sq, 

^ Ibid. p. 49. 


impoverished by the harvesters, it is natural that his repre- 
sentative — the passing stranger — should upbraid them ; and 
it is equally natural that they should seek to disable him 
from pursuing them and recapturing the stolen property. 
Now, it is an old superstition that by easing nature on the 
spot where a robbery is committed, the robbers secure 
themselves, for a certain time, against interruption.^ Hence 
when madder-diggers resort to this proceeding in presence 
of the stranger whom they have caught and buried in the 
field, we may infer that they consider themselves robbers 
and him as the person robbed. Regarded as such, he must 
be the natural owner of the madder-roots, that is, their 
spirit or demon ; and this conception is carried out by 
burying him, like the madder-roots, in the ground.* The 
Greeks, it may be observed, were quite familiar with the 
idea that a passing stranger may be a god. Homer says 
that the gods in the likeness of foreigners roam up and 
down cities." Once in Poso, a district of Celebes, when a new 
missionary entered a house where a number of people were 
gathered round a sick man, one of them addressed the new- 
comer in these words : " Well, sir, as we had never seen 
you before, and you came suddenly in, while we sat here by 
ourselves, we thought it was a spirit." * 

Thus in these harvest-customs of modern Europe the 
person who cuts, binds, or threshes the last corn is treated as 
an embodiment of the corn-spirit by being wrapt up in 
sheaves, killed in mimicry by agricultural implements, and 
thrown into the water.* These coincidences with the 
Lityerses story seem to prove that the latter is a genuine 
description of an old Phrygian harvest-custom. But since in 
the modern parallels the killing of the personal representative 
of the corn-spirit is necessarily omitted or at most enacted 
only in mimicry, it is desirable to show that in rude society 
human beings have been commonly killed as an agricultural 

^ \V. Mannhardt, op, di, p. 49 sg. ; So/Aisf, p. 216 A. 
\SvLi\\ie, Ver deutscke Volksai<r^ube,^ * A. C. Kniijt, "Mijne eerste 

§400; Tb^ptn^ Aberglaubi aus MasU' en'aringen te Poso,'* Med&UeHngitn 

ren^ P* 57* ^^'' ^^^ ^^^ Nederlandsche Zendtling- 

^ The explanation of the custom is genootschap^ xxxvi. (1892), p. 402. 
Mannhardt's. M,F, p. 49. ^ For throwing him into the water, 

3 Odyssey^ xviL 485 sqq, Cp. Plato, see p. 231. 




ceremony to promote the fertility of the fields. The following 
examples will make this plain. 

The Indians of Guayaquil, in Ecuador, used to sacrifice 
human blood and the hearts of men when they sowed their 
fields.^ At a Mexican harvest-festival, when the first-fruits 
of the season were offered to the sun, a criminal was placed 
between two immense stones, balanced opposite each other, 
and was crushed by them as they fell together. His remains 
were buried, and a feast and dance followed. This sacrifice 
was known as " the meeting of the stones." * Another series 
of human sacrifices offered in Mexico to make the maize thrive 
has been already referred to.* The Pawnees annually sacrificed 
a human victim in spring when they sowed their fields. The 
sacrifice was believed to have been enjoined on them by the 
Morning Star, or by a certain bird which the Morning Star 
had sent to them as its messenger. The bird was stuffed 
and preserved as a powerful talisman. They thought that 
an omission of this sacrifice would be followed by the total 
failure of the crops of maize, beans, and pumpkins. The 
victim was a captive of either sex. He was clad in the 
gayest and most costly attire, was fattened on the choicest 
food, and carefully kept in ignorance of his * doom. When 
he was fat enough, they bound him to a cross in the presence 
of the multitude, danced a solemn dance, then cleft his head 
with a tomahawk and shot him with arrows. According to 
one trader, the squaws then cut pieces of flesh from the 
victim's body, with which they greased their hoes ; but this 
was denied by another trader who had been present at the 
ceremony. Immediately after the sacrifice the people pro- 
ceeded to plant their fields. A particular account has been 
preserved of the sacrifice of a Sioux girl by the Pawnees in 
April 1837 or 1838. The girl had been kept for six 
months and well treated. Two days before the sacrifice she 
was led from wigwam to wigwam, accompanied by the whole 
council of chiefs and warriors. At each lodge she received a 
small billet of wood and a little paint, which she handed to 

* Cieza de Leon, Travels^ trans- 
lated by Markham, p. 203 (Hakluyt 
Society, 1864). 

* Brasseur de Bourbourg, Ilistoire 
dts Nations civilis^es du Mixiqtu et de 

PAnUriqm Centrtile^ »• 274 ; Bancroft, 
Natii^ Races of the Pacijic States^ ii. 

* See above, p. 143. 





the warrior next to her. In this way she called at every 
wigwam, receiving at each the same present of wood and 
paint. On the twenty-second of April she was taken out to 
be sacrificed, attended by the warriors, each of whom carried 
two pieces of wood which he had received from her hands. 
She was burned for some time over a slow fire, and then 
shot to death with arrows. The chief sacrificer next tore 
out her heart and devoured it. While her flesh was still 
warm it was cut in small pieces from the bones, put in little 
baskets, and taken to a neighbouring corn-field. Here the 
head chief took a piece of the flesh from a basket and 
squeezed a drop of blood upon the newly-deposited grains of 
corn. His example was followed by the rest, till all the seed 
had been sprinkled with the blood ; it was then covered up 
with earth.^ 

A West African queen used to sacrifice a man and 
woman in the month of March. They were killed with 
spades and hoes, and their bodies buried in the middle of a 
field which had just been tilled.' At Lagos in Guinea it 
was the custom annually to impale a young girl alive soon 
after the spring equinox in order to secure good crops. 
Along with her were sacrificed sheep and goats, which, with 
yams, heads of maize, and plantains, were hung on stakes on 
each side of her. The victims were bred up for the purpose 
in the king's seraglio, and their minds had been so powerfully 
wrought upon by the fetish men that they went cheerfully to 
their fate.' A similar sacrifice used to be annually oflered 
at Benin, in Guinea.* The Marimos, a Bechuana tribe, 
sacrifice a human being for the crops. The victim chosen 
is generally a short, stout man. He is seized by violence or 

1 £. James, Account of an Expedition 
from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountcu'ns^ 
iL 80 sq, ; Schoolcraft, Indian Tribes, 
V. 77 sqg, ; De Smet, Voyages aux 
Montagtus Rocheuses, nouvelle ed. 
1873, p. 121 sqq. The accounts by 
Schoolcraft and De Smet of the sacrifice 
of the Sioux girl are independent and 
supplement each other. Another de- 
scription of the sacrifice is given by Mr. 
G. U. Grinnell from the recollection of 
an eye-witness {Pawnee Hero Stories 
and Folk-tales, pp. 362-369). Accord- 
ing to this last account the victim was 

shot with arrows and aAerMrards burnt. 
Before the body was consumed in the 
fire a man pulled out the arrows, cut 
open the breast of the victim, and 
having smeared his face with the blood 
ran away as fast as he could. 

^ Labat, Relation historique de 
PEthiopie octieUntale, i. 380. 

' John Adams, Sketches taken 
during Ten Voyages in Africa between 
the years 1786 and 1800, p. 25. 

^ P. Bouche, La CCUe des Esclaies, 
p. 132. 




intoxicated and taken to the fields, where he is killed 
amongst the wheat to serve as " seed " (so they phrase it). 
After his blood has coagulated in the sun, it is burned along 
with the frontal bone, the flesh attached to it, and the brain ; 
the ashes are then scattered over the ground to fertilise it 
The rest of the body is eaten.^ The Rev. John Roscoe, for 
many years a missionary in Central Africa, informed me 
in conversation that an agricultural tribe, among whom he 
resided for some time, used to offer human sacrifices of a 
peculiar kind once a year, about the time of harvest The 
victims, who were young women, were taken away to the 
hills, where their heads were crushed between two branches. 
The sacrifices were not performed in the fields, and Mr. Roscoe 
could not ascertain their object, but we may conjecture that 
they were offered to ensure good crops in the following year.* 
The Bagobos of Mindanao, one of the Philippine Islands, 
offer a human sacrifice before they sow their rice. The victim 
is a slave, who is hewn to pieces in the forest* The Shans of 
Indo-China still believe in the efficacy of human sacrifice to 
procure a good harvest, though they act on the belief less 
than some other tribes of this region. Their practice now is to 
poison somebody at the state festival, which is generally held 
at some time between March and May.^ Among the Lhota 
Naga, one of the tribes of North-Eastern India, it used to be 
a common custom to chop off the heads, hands, and feet of 
people they met with, and then to stick up the severed 
extremities in their fields to ensure a good crop of grain. 
They bore no ill-will whatever to the persons whom they 
treated in this unceremonious fashion. Once they flayed a 
boy alive, carved him in pieces, and distributed the flesh 
among all the villagers, who put it into their corn-bins to 
avert bad luck and ensure plentiful crops of grain. The 


^ Arbousset et Daumas, Voyage 
itcxploraiicn au Nord-tst de la Colonit 
du Cap de Bontu-Esperance^ P< 1 1 7 H' 

* Unfortunately I omitted to take 
down the name of the tribe. It was 
not the Waganda. I have i^-ritten to 
Mr. Roscoe to ascertain the name of 
the tribe, but have not yet received his 
answer. He is at present stationed at 
Mengo in Uganda. 

' F. Blumentritt, ** Das Stromgebiet 
des Rio Grande de Mindanao,** Peter- 
manns Mitteilungen^ xxxvii. (1891), 
p. no. 

* R. G. Woodthorpe, ** Some 
Account of the Shans and Hill Tribes 
of the States on the Mekong, *'yM</TMi/ 
of the Anthropological Institute^ xxvi. 
(1897), p. 24. 


Angami, another tribe of the same region, used also to relieve 
casual passers-by of their heads, hands, and feet with the 
same excellent intention.^ The hill tribe Kudulu, near 
Vizagapatam in the Bombay Presidency, offered human 
sacrifices to the god Jankari for the purpose of obtaining 
good crops. The ceremony was generally performed on the 
Sunday before or after the Pongal feast. For the most part 
the victim was purchased, and until the time for the sacrifice 
came he was free to wander about the village, to eat and 
drink what he liked, and even to lie with any woman be 
met On the appointed day he was carried before the 
idol drunk ; and when one of the villagers had cut a hole 
in his stomach and smeared the blood on the idol, the 
crowds from the neighbouring villages rushed upon him 
and cut him to pieces. All who were fortunate enough 
to secure morsels of his flesh carried them away and pre- 
sented them to their village idols.^ The Gonds of India, a 
Dravidian race, kidnapped Brahman boys, and kept them as 
victims to be sacrificed on various occasions. At sowing and 
reaping, after a triumphal procession, one of the lads was 
slain by being punctured with a poisoned arrow. His blood 
was then sprinkled over the ploughed field or the ripe crop, 
and his flesh was devoured.' 

But the best known case of human sacrifices, systematic- 
ally oflered to ensure good crops, is supplied by the 
Khonds or Kandhs, another Dravidian race in Bengal. Our 
knowledge of them is derived from the accounts written by 
British officers who, fifty or sixty years ago, were engaged in 
putting them down.* The sacrifices were offered to the 
Earth Goddess, Tari Pennu or Bera Pennu, and were believed 
to ensure good crops and immunity from all disease and 
accidents. In particular, they were considered necessary in 
the cultivation of turmeric, the Khonds arguing that the 
turmeric could not have a deep red colour without the 
shedding of blood.^ The victim or Meriah was acceptable 

^ Miss G. M. Godden, **Naga and ' Panjab Notes and Queries^ ii. p. 

other Frontier Tribes of North*£astern 127 j^., § 721. 

India, "yjjwrwtf/ ef the Aftthropological ' * Major S. C. Maq)herson, Me- 

/nstitute, xxvii. (1898), pp. 9 J^., 38 s^, Ptoria/s of Service in India^ p. 1 13 J^. ; 

Major-General John Campbell, Wild 

^ North Indian Notes and Queries^ Tribes tf Khoftdistan^ pp. 52-58, etc. 
i. p. 4, § 15. ^ J* Campbell, op, cit, p. 56. 





to the gcxidess only if he had been purchased, or had been 
born a victim — that is, the son of a victim father — or had 
been devoted as a child by his father or guardian. Khonds 
in distress often sold their children for victims, " considering 
the beatification of their souls certain, and their death, for 
the benefit of mankind, the most honourable possible." A 
man of the Panua tribe was once seen to load a Khond with 
curses, and finally to spit in his face, because the Khond had 
sold for a victim his own child, whom the Panua had wished 
to marry. A party of Khonds, who saw this, immediately 
pressed forward to comfort the seller of his child, saying, 
" Your child has died that all the world may live, and the 
Earth Goddess herself will wipe that spittle from your face." * 
The victims were often kept for years before they were 
sacrificed. Being regarded as consecrated beings, they were 
treated with extreme affection, mingled with deference, and 
were welcomed wherever they went A Meriah youth, on 
attaining maturity, was generally given a wife, who was her- 
self usually a Meriah or victim ; and with her he received 
a portion of land and farm -stock. Their offspring were 
also victims. Human sacrifices were offered to the Earth 
Goddess by tribes, branches of tribes, or villages, both at 
periodical festivals and on extraordinary occasions. The 
periodical sacrifices were generally so arranged by tribes and 
divisions of tribes that each head of a family was enabled, at 
least once a year, to procure a shred of flesh for his fields, 
generally about the time when his chief crop was laid 

The mode of performing these tribal sacrifices was as 
follows. Ten or twelve days before the sacrifice, the victim 
was devoted by cutting off his hair, which, until then, had 
been kept unshorn. Crowds of men and women assembled 
to witness the sacrifice ; none might be excluded, since the 
sacrifice was declared to be for all mankind. It was pre- 
ceded by several days of wild revelry and gross debauchery.' 
On the day before the sacrifice the victim, dressed in a new 
garment, was led forth from the village in solemn procession, 
with music and dancing, to the Meriah grove, a clump of 

' S. C. Macpherson, op, at, p. 1 1 5 x^. 
' Ibid. p. 117 ^. ; J. Campbell, p. 112. ^ Ibid. p. 113. 




high forest trees standing a little way from the village and 
untouched by the axe. Here they tied him to a post, which 
was sometimes placed between two plants of the sankissar 
shrub. He was then anointed with oil, ghee, and turmeric, 
and adorned with flowers ; and " a species of reverence, 
which it is not easy to distinguish from adoration," was paid 
to him throughout the day.^ A great struggle now arose to 
obtain the smallest relic from his person ; a particle of the 
turmeric paste with which he was smeared, or a drop of his 
spittle, was esteemed of sovereigfn virtue, especially by the 
women. The crowd danced round the post to music, and, 
addressing the earth, said, " O God, we offer this sacrifice to 
you ; give us good crops, seasons, and health." ^ 

On the last morning the orgies, which had been scarcely 
interrupted during the night, were resumed, and continued 
till noon, when they ceased, and the assembly proceeded to 
consummate the sacrifice. The victim was again anointed 
with oil, and each person touched the anointed part, and 
wiped the oil on his own head. In some places they took 
the victim in procession round the village, from door to door, 
where some plucked hair from his head, and others begged 
for a drop of his spittle, with which they anointed their 
heads.' As the victim might not be bound nor make any 
show of resistance, the bones of his arms and, if necessary, 
his legs were broken ; but often this precaution was rendered 
unnecessary by stupefying him with opium.* The mode of 
putting him to death varied in different places. One of the 
commonest modes seems to have been strangulation, or 
squeezing to death. The branch of a green tree was cleft 
several feet down the middle ; the victim's neck (in other 
places, his chest) was inserted in the cleft, which the priest, 
aided by his assistants, strove with all his force to close.^ 
Then he wounded the victim slightly with his axe, whereupon 
the crowd rushed at the wretch and cut the flesh from the 
bones, leaving the head and bowels untouched. Sometimes 
he was cut up alive.** In Chinna Kimedy he was dragged 

1 S. C Maq>herson, p. 118. ^ S. C Macpherson, p. 1 27. Instead 

2 J. Campbell, p. 54. of the branch of a green tree, Campbell 
^ JHd. pp. 55, 112. mentions two strong planks or bamboos 
^ S. C. Maq>herson, p. 119; J. (p. 57) or a slit bamboo (p. 182). 

Campbell, p. 113. ^ J. Campbell, pp. 56, 58, 120. 




along the fields, surrounded by the crowd, who, avoiding his 
head and intestines, hacked the flesh from his body with 
their knives till he died.^ Another very common mode of 
sacrifice in the same district was to fasten the victim to the 
proboscis of a wooden elephant, which revolved on a stout 
post, and, as it whirled round, the crowd cut the flesh from 
the victim while life remained. In some villages Major 
Campbell found as many as fourteen of these wooden 
elephants, which had been used at sacrifices.* In one dis- 
trict the victim was put to death slowly by fire. A low 
stage was formed, sloping on either side like a roof; upon it 
they laid the victim, his limbs wound round with cords to 
confine his struggles. Fires were then lighted and hot 
brands applied, to make him roll up and down the slopes of 
the stage as long as possible ; for the more tears he shed the 
more abundant would be the supply of rain. Next day the 
body was cut to pieces.' 

The flesh cut from the victim was instantly taken home 
by the persons who had been deputed by each village to 
bring it. To secure its rapid arrival, it was sometimes 
forwarded by relays of men, and conveyed with postal fleet- 
ness fifty or sixty miles.* In each village all who stayed at 
home fasted rigidly until the flesh arrived. The bearer 
deposited it in the place of public assembly, where it was 
received by the priest and the heads of families. The priest 
divided it into two portions, one of which he offered to the 
Earth Goddess by burying it in a hole in the ground with 
his back turned, and without looking. Then each man 
added a little earth to bury it, and the priest poured water 
on the spot from a hill gourd. The other portion of flesh 
he divided into as many shares as there were heads of 
houses present. Each head of a house rolled his shred of 


\ \ 

* Dalton, Ethnology of Bengal^ p. 
28S, quoting Colonel Campbell's Re- 

2 J. Campbell, p. 126. The elephant 
represented the Earth Goddess herself, 
who was here conceived in elephant- 
form (Campbell, pp. 51, 126). In the 
hill tracts of Goomsur she was repre- 
sented in peacock-form, and the post 
to which the victim was bound bore the 

efhgy of a peacock (Campbell, p. 54). 

^ S. C. Macpherson, p. 130. In 
Mexico also the tears of the human 
victims were sometimes regarded as an 
omen of rain (Sahagun, Histoire giniraU 
des Ckoses de la Nouvelle Espagne^ ii. 
ch. 20, p. 86). 

* Dalton, Ethttology of Bengal^ p. 
288, referring to (Lionel Campbell s. 


flesh in leaves, and buried it in his favourite field, placing it 
in the earth behind his back without looking.^ In some 
places each man carried his portion of flesh to the stream 
which watered his fields, and there hung it on a pole." For 
three days thereafter no house was swept ; and, in one 
district, strict silence was observed, no fire might be given 
out, no wood cut, and no strangers received. The remains 
of the human victim (namely, the head, bowels, and bones) 
were watched by strong parties the night after the sacrifice ; 
and next morning they were burned, along with a whole 
sheep, on a funeral pile. The ashes were scattered over 
the fields, laid as paste over the houses and granaries, or 
mixed with the new corn to preserve it from insects.' 
Sometimes, however, the head and bones were buried, not 
burnt* After the suppression of the human sacrifices, in- 
ferior victims were substituted in some places ; for instance, 
in the capital of Chinna Kimedy a goat took the place of 
a human victim.* 

In these Khond sacrifices the Meriahs are represented 
by our authorities as victims offered to propitiate the Earth 
Goddess. But from the treatment of the victims both before 
and after death it appears that the custom cannot be ex- 
plained as merely a propitiatory sacrifice. A part of the 
flesh certainly was offered to the Earth Goddess, but the 
rest of the flesh was buried by each householder in his fields, 
and the ashes of the other parts of the body were scattered 
over the fields, laid as paste on the granaries, or mixed with 
the new com. These latter customs imply that to the body 
of the Meriah there was ascribed a direct or intrinsic power 
of making the crops to grow, quite independent of the in- 
direct efficacy which it might have as an offering to secure the 
good-will of the deity. In other words, the flesh and ashes 
of the victim were believed to be endowed with a magical or 
physical power of fertilising the land. The same intrinsic 
power was ascribed to the blood and tears of the Meriah, 
his blood causing the redness of the turmeric and his tears 

* S. C. Maqphcrson, p. 129. Com- ^ S. C. Maqpherson, p. 128; Dal- 

pare J. Campbell, pp. 55, 58, 113, ton, /.f. 

121, 187. * J. Campbell, pp. 55, 182. 

« J. Campbell, p. 182. * IHd. p. 187. 




producing rain ; for it can hardly be doubted that, originally 
at least, the tears were supposed to bring down the rain, not 
merely to prognosticate it. Similarly the custom of pouring 
water on the buried flesh of the Meriah was no doubt a rain- 
charm. Again, magical power as an attribute of the Meriah 
appears in the sovereign virtue believed to reside in any- 
thing that came from his person, as his hair or spittle. The 
ascription of such power to the Meriah indicates that he was 
much more than a mere man sacrificed to propitiate a deity. 
Once more, the extreme reverence paid him points to the 
same conclusion. Major Campbell speaks of the Meriah as 
" being regarded as something more than mortal," ^ and 
Major Macpherson says, " A species of reverence, which it is 
not easy to distinguish from adoration, is paid to him." * In 
short, the Meriah appears to have been regarded as divine. 
As such, he may originally have represented the Earth 
goddess or perhaps a deity of vegetation ; though in later 
times he came to be regarded rather as a victim offered to a 
deity than as himself an incarnate god. This later view of 
the Meriah as a victim rather than a divinity may perhaps 
have received undue emphasis from the European writers 
who have described the Khond religion. Habituated to the 
later idea of sacrifice as an offering made to a god for the 
purpose of conciliating his favour, European observers are 
apt to interpret all religious slaughter in this sense, and to 
suppose that wherever such slaughter takes place, there must 
necessarily be a deity to whom the carnage is believed by 
the slayers to be acceptable. Thus their preconceived ideas 
may unconsciously colour and warp their descriptions of 
savage rites. 

The same custom of killing the representative of a god, 
of which strong traces appear in the Khond sacrifices, may 
perhaps be detected in some of the other human sacrifices 
described above. Thus the ashes of the slaughtered Marimo 
were scattered over the fields ; the blood of the Brahman 
lad was put on the crop and field ; the flesh of the slain 
Naga was stowed in the corn-bin ; and the blood of the 
Sioux girl was allowed to trickle on the seed.' Again, the 

' J. Campbell, p. 112. * S. C. Macpherson. p. 118. 

3 Above, pp. 239, 240, 241. 





identification of the victim with the corn, in other words, 
the view that he is an embodiment or spirit of the corn, is 
brought out in the pains which seem to be taken to secure 
a physical correspondence between him and the natural 
object which he embodies or represents. Thus the Mexicans 
killed young victims for the young corn and old ones for the 
ripe corn ; the Marimos sacrifice, as " seed," a short, fat man, 
the shortness of his stature corresponding to that of the 
young corn, his fatness to the condition which it is desired 
that the crops may attain ; and the Pawnees fattened their 
victims probably with the same view. Again, the identi- 
fication of the victim with the com comes out in the African 
custom of killing him with spades and hoes, and the Mexican 
custom of grinding him, like com, between two stones. 

One more point in these savage customs deserves to be 
noted. The Pawnee chief devoured the heart of the Sioux 
girl, and the Marimos and Gonds ate the victim's flesh. If, 
as we suppose, the victim was regarded as divine, it follows 
that in eating his flesh his worshippers were partaking of the 
body of their god. To this point we shall retum later on. 

The savage rites just described offer analogies to the 
harvest - customs of Europe. Thus the fertilising virtue 
ascribed to the com-spirit is shown equally in the savage 
custom of mixing the victim's blood or ashes with the seed- 
corn and the European custom of mixing the grain from the 
last sheaf with the young corn in spring.* Again, the 
identification of the person with the com appears alike in 
the savage custom of adapting the age and stature of the 
victim to the age and stature, whether actual or expected, of 
the crop ; in the Scotch and Styrian rules that when the com- 
spirit is conceived as the Maiden the last corn shall be cut 
by a young maiden, but when it is conceived as the Corn- 
mother it shall be cut by an old woman ;^ in the Lothringian 
warning given to old women to save themselves when the 
Old Woman is being killed, that is, when the last com 
is bring threshed ; ' and in the Tyrolese expectation that if 
the man who gives the last stroke at threshing is tall, 
the next year's corn will be tall also.* Further, the same 

> Above, p. 172. 2 Above, pp. 171, 184, 185, 186. 

^ AlMve, p. 230. * Above, p. 231. 




identification is implied in the savage custom of killing the 
representative of the corn-spirit with hoes or spades or by 
grinding him between stones, and in the European custom of 
pretending to kill him with the scythe or the flail. Once 
more the Khond custom of pouring water on the buried flesh 
of the victim is parallel to the European customs of pouring 
water on the personal representative of the corn-spirit or 
plunging him into a stream.^ Both the Khond and the 
European customs are rain-charms. 

To return now to the Lityerses story. It has been 
shown that in rude society human beings have been com- 
monly killed to promote the growth of the crops. There is 
therefore no improbability in the supposition that they may 
once have been killed for a. like purpose in Phrygia and 
Europe ; and when Phrygian legend and European folk- 
custom, closely agreeing with each other, point to the con- 
clusion that men were so slain, we are bound, provisionally 
at least, to accept the conclusion. Further, both the Lityerses 
story and European harvest-customs agree in indicating that 
the person slain was slain as a representative of the corn- 
spirit, and this indication is in harmony with the view which 
savages appear to take of the victim slain to make the 
crops flourish. On the whole, then, we may fairly suppose 
that both in Phrygia and in Europe the representative of 
the corn-spirit was annually killed upon the harvest-fleld. 
Grounds have been already shown for believing that similarly 
in Europe the representative of the tree-spirit was annually 
slain. The proofs of these two remarkable and closely 
analogous customs are entirely independent of each other. 
Their coincidence seems to furnish fresh presumption in 
favour of both. 

To the question, how was the representative of the corn- 
spirit chosen? one answer has been already given. Both 
the Lityerses story and European folk-custom show that 
passing strangers were regarded as manifestations of the 
corn-spirit escaping from the cut or threshed com, and as 
such were seized and slain. But this is not the only answer 
which the evidence suggests. According to one version of 
the Phrygian legend the victims of Lityerses were not pass- 

1 Above, pp. 121 sqq,^ 174, 179, 180, 231. 




ing strangers but persons whom he had vanquished in a 
reaping contest ; and though it is not said that he killed, 
but only that he thrashed them, we can hardly help suppos- 
ing that in one version of the story the vanquished reapers, 
like the strangers in the other version, were said to have 
been wrapt up by Lityerses in corn-sheaves and so beheaded. 
The supposition is countenanced by European harvest- 
customs. We have seen that in Europe there is sometimes 
a contest amongst the reapers to avoid being last, and that 
the person who is vanquished in this competition, that is, 
who cuts the last com, is often roughly handled. It is true 
we have not found that a pretence is made of killing him ; 
but on the other hand we have found that a pretence is 
made of killing the man who gives the last stroke at thresh- 
ing, that is, who is vanquished in the threshing contest.^ 
Now, since it is in the character of representative of the 
com - spirit that the thresher of the last corn is slain in 
mimicry, and since the same representative character attaches 
(as we have seen) to the cutter and binder as well as to the 
thresher of the last corn, and since the same repug^nance is 
evinced by harvesters to be last in any one of these labours, we 
may conjecture that a pretence has been commonly made of 
killing the reaper and binder as well as the thresher of the last 
com, and that in ancient times this killing was actually 
carried out. This conjecture is corroborated by the common 
superstition that whoever cuts the last com must die soon.' 
Sometimes it is thought that the person who binds the last 
sheaf on the field will die in the course of next year.' The 
reason for fixing on the reaper, binder, or thresher of the 
last com as the representative of the com-spirit may be this. 
The corn-spirit is supposed to lurk as long as he can in the 
corn, retreating before the reapers, the binders, and the 
threshers at their work. But when he is forcibly expelled 
from his refuge in the last com cut or the last sheaf bound or 
the last grain threshed, he necessarily assumes some other 
form than that of the com-stalks which had hitherto been his 
garments or body. And what form can the expelled corn- 
spirit assume more naturally than that of the person who 

> Above, p. 231. ' Pfannenschmid, Ctrmaniicht Em^ 

' W. Mannhardt, A'i^//^>w0;f^p.5. tefeste^ p. 98. 




Stands nearest to the corn from which he (the corn-spirit) 
has just been expelled ? But the person in question is 
necessarily the reaper, binder, or thresher of the last corn. 
He or she, therefore, is seized and treated as the corn-spirit 

Thus the person who was killed on the harvest-field as 
the representative of the corn-spirit may have been either 
a passing stranger or the harvester who was last at reaping, 
bindings or threshing. But there is a third possibility, to 
which ancient legend and modern folk-custom alike point. 
Lityerses not only put strangers to death ; he was himself 
slain, and probably in the same way as he had slain others, 
namely, by being wrapt in a corn-sheaf, beheaded, and cast 
into the river ; and it is implied that this happened to 
Lityerses on his own land. Similarly in modem harvest- 
customs the' pretence of killing appears to be carried out 
quite as often on the person of the master (farmer or squire) 
as on that of strangers.* Now when we* remember that 
Lityerses was said to have been the son of the King of 
Phrygia, and combine with this the tradition that he was 
put to death, apparently as a representative of the corn- 
spirit, we are led to conjecture that we have here another 
trace of the custom of annually slaying one of those divine 
or priestly kings who are known to have held ghostly sway 
in many parts of Western Asia and particularly in Phrygia. 
The custom appears, as we have seen,* to have been so far 
modified in places that the king's son was slain in the king's 
stead. Of the custom thus modified the story of Lityerses 
would therefore be a reminiscence. 

Turning now to the relation of the Phrygian Lityerses 
to the Phrygian Attis, it may be remembered that at Pessinus 
— the seat of a priestly kingship— the high-priest appears 
to have been annually slain in the character of Attis, a god 
of vegetation, and that Attis was described by an ancient 
authority as "a reaped ear of corn."' Thus Attis, as an 
embodiment of the corn-spirit, annually slain in the person 
of his representative, might be thought to be ultimately 
identical with Lityerses, the latter being simply the rustic 

* Above, p. 233 sq. - Above, p. 38 $q, 

' Above, p. 133. 



prototype out of which the state religion of Attis was 
developed. It may have been so ; but, on the other hand, 
the analogy of European folk-custom warns us that amongst 
the same people two distinct deities of vegetation may have 
their separate personal representatives, both of whom are 
slain in the character of gods at different times of the year. 
For in Europe, as we have seen, it appears that one man 
was commonly slain in the character of the tree-spirit in 
spring, and another in the character of the corn-spirit in 
autumn. It may have been so in Phrygfia also. • Attis was 
especially a tree-god, and his connection with corn may have 
been only such an extension of the power of a tree-spirit as 
is indicated in customs like the Harvest-May.^ Again, the 
representative of Attis appears to have been slain in spring ; 
whereas Lityerses must have been slain in summer or 
autumn, according to the time of the harvest in Phrygia.* 
On the whole, then, while we are not justified in regarding 
Lityerses as the prototype of Attis, the two may be regarded 
as parallel products of the same religious idea, and may have 
stood to each other as in Europe the Old Man of harvest 
stands to the Wild Man, the Leaf Man, and so forth, of 
spring. Both were spirits or deities of vegetation, and the 
personal representatives of both were annually slain. But 
whereas the Attis worship became elevated into the dignity 
of a state religion and spread to Italy, the rites of Lityerses 
seem never to have passed the limits of their native Phrygia, 
and always retained their character of rustic ceremonies per- 
formed by peasants on the harvest-field. At most a few 
villages may have clubbed together, as amongst the Khonds, 
to procure a human victim to be slain as representative of 
the corn-spirit for their common benefit. Such victims may 
have been drawn from the families of priestly kings or 
kinglets, which would account for the legendary character of 
Lityerses as the son of a Phrygian king. When villages did 
not so club together, each village or farm may have procured 
its own representative of the corn-spirit by dooming to death 
either a passing stranger or the harvester who cut, bound, or 

' Above, p. 233 sq, character of the country makes it likely 

' I do not know when the corn is that harvest is bter there than on the 
reaped in Phrygia ; but the high upland coasts of the Mediterranean. 

._ _.. ^..w .t^M^jy^L^^ J jyyil^ CLX, ICll^Lil UCLHUSC 11 

ds so many points of comparison with European and 

ge folk-custom. The other harvest songs of Western 

and Egypt, to which attention has been called above,^ 

now be dismissed much more briefly. The similarity 

le Bithynian Bormus • to the Phrygian Lityerses helps to 

out the interpretation which has been given of the 

r. Bormus, whose death or rather disappearance was 

lally mourned by the reapers in a plaintive song, was, 

Lityerses, a king's son or at least the son of a wealthy 

distinguished man. The reapers whom he watched 

at work on his own fields, and he disappeared in going 

jtch water for them ; according to one version of the 

' he was carried off by the nymphs, doubtless the 

phs of the spring or pool or river whither he went to 

water/ Viewed in the light of the Lityerses story 

of European folk-custom, this disappearance of Bormus 

be a reminiscence of the custom of binding the 

*r himself in a corn-sheaf and throwing him into the 

The mournful strain which the reapers sang was 

ibly a lamentation over the death of the com -spirit, 

either in the cut com or in the person of a human 

sentative ; and the call which they addressed to him 

have been a prayer that he might retum in fresh vigour 



and this, combined with the legend of Syleus, suggests' that 
in ancient times passing strangers were handled by vintagers 
and vine-diggers in much the same way as they are said to 
have been handled by the reaper Lityerses. The Lydian 
Syleus, so ran the legend, compelled passers-by to dig for 
him in his vineyard, till Hercules came and killed him and 
dug up his vines by the roots.^ This seems to be the outline 
of a legend like that of Lityerses ; but neither ancient writers 
nor modem folk-custom enable us to fill in the details.* 
But, further, the Linus song was probably sung also by 
Phoenician reapers, for Herodotus compares it to the 
Maneros song, which, as we have seen, was a lament raised 
by Egyptian reapers over the cut corn. Further, Linus was 
identified with Adonis, and Adonis has some claims to be 
regarded as especially a com -deity.' Thus the Linus 
lament, as sung at harvest, would be identical with the 
Adonis lament ; each would be the lamentation raised by 
reapers over the dead spirit of the corn. But whereas Adonis, 
like Attis, grew into a stately figure of mythology, adored 
and moumed in splendid cities far beyond the limits of his 
Phoenician home, Linus appears to have remained a simple 
ditty sung by reapers and vintagers among the corn-sheaves 
and the vines. The analogy of Lityerses and of folk-custom, 
both European and savage, suggests that in Phoenicia the 
slain corn-spirit — the dead Adonis — may formerly have 
been represented by a human victim ; and this suggestion 
is possibly supported by the Harran legend that Tammuz. 
(Adonis) was slain by his cruel lord, who ground his bones 
in a mill and scattered them to the wind.* For in Mexico, 
as we have seen, the human victim at harvest was crushed 
between two stones ; and both in India and Africa the 
ashes of the victim were scattered over the fields.* But 
the Harran legend may be only a mythical way of express- 
ing the grinding of corn in the mill and the scattering of the 
seed. It seems worth suggesting that the mock king who was 
annually killed at the Babylonian festival of the Sacaea on 

^ ApoUodorus, ii. 6. 3. See W. Mannhardt, Myth, Forsch, p. 

2 The scurrilities exchanged both in 53 -ry. 
ancient and modem times between ^ Above, p. iiS Jf. 

vine-dressers, vintagen, and passers-by * Above, p. 119. 

seem to belong to a different category. ^ Above, pp. 238, 240, 245. 





the sixteenth day of the month Lous may have represented 
Tammuz himself. For the historian Berosus, who records 
the festival and its date, probably used the Macedonian 
calendar, since he dedicated his history to Antiochus Soter ; 
and in his day the Macedonian month Lous appears to have 
corresponded to the Babylonian month Tammuz.^ If this 
conjecture is right, the view that the mock king at the Sacaea 
was slain in the character of a god would be established. 
But to this point we shall return later on. 

There is a good deal more evidence that in Egypt the 
slain corn-spirit — the dead Osiris — was represented by a 
human victim, whom the reapers slew on the harvest-field, 
mourning his death in a dirge, to which the Greeks, through 
a verbal misunderstanding, gave the name of Maneros.^ For 
the legend of Busiris seems to preserve a reminiscence of 
human sacrifices once offered by the Egyptians in connection 
with the worship of Osiris. Busiris was said to have been 
an Egyptian king who sacrificed all strangers on the altar 
of Zeus. The origin of the custom was traced to a dearth 
which afflicted the land of Egypt for nine years. A Cyprian 
seer informed Busiris that the dearth would cease if a man 
were annually sacrificed to Zeus. So Busiris instituted the 
sacrifice. But when Hercules came to Egypt, and was being 
dragged to the altar to be sacrificed, he burst his bonds 
and slew Busiris and his son.* Here then is a legend that 
in Egypt a human victim was annually sacrificed to prevent 
the failure of the crops, and a belief is implied that an 
omission of the sacrifice would have entailed a recurrence of 
that infertility which it was the object of the sacrifice to 


^ The probable correspondence of 
the months, which supplies so welcome 
a confirmation of the conjecture in the 
text, was pointed out to me by my 
friend W. Robertson Smith, who fur- 
nished me with the following note : 
'* In the Syro - Macedonian calendar 
Lous represents Ab, not Tammuz. 
Was it different in Babylon ? I think 
it was, and one month different, at 
least in the early times of the Greek 
monarchy in Asia. For we kiiow 
from a Babylonian observation in the 
Almagest {IdeUr^ i. 396) that in 229 

B.C Xanthicus began on February 26. 
It was therefore the month before the 
equinoctial moon, not Nisan but Adar, 
and consequently Lous answered to the 
lunar month Tammuz.*' 

* Above, p. 223. 

* Apollodorus. ii. 5. ii ; Schol. on 
ApoUonius Rhodius, Argon, iv. 1396 ; 
Plutarch, ParalL 38. Herodotus (ii. 
45)discredits the idea that the Eg}'ptians 
ever offered human sacrifices. But his 
authority is not to be weighed against 
that of Manetho (Plutarch, Is, ct Os. 
73), who affirms that they did. 


prevent. So the Pawnees, as we have seen, believed that an 
omission of the human sacrifice at planting would have been 
followed by a total failure of their crops. The name Busiris 
was in reality the name of a city, pe-Asar^ " the house of 
Osiris," ^ the city being so called because it contained the 
grave of Osiris. The human sacrifices were said to have 
been offered at his grave, and the victims were red-haired 
men, whose ashes were scattered abroad by means of 
winnowing-fans.^ In the light of the foregoing discussion, 
this Egyptian tradition admits of a consistent and fairly 
probable explanation. Osiris, the corn-spirit, was annually 
represented at harvest by a stranger, whose red hair made 
him a suitable representative of the ripe com. This man, 
in his representative character, was slain on the harvest-field, 
and mourned by the reapers, who prayed at the same time 
that the corn-spirit might revive and return {mdA-ne-rha^ 
Maneros) with renewed vigour in the following year. 
Finally, the victim, or some part of him, was burned, and 
the ashes scattered by winnowing-fans over the fields to 
fertilise them. Here the choice of the vjctim on the ground 
of his resemblance to the corn which he was to represent 
agrees with the Mexican and African customs already 'de- 
scribed.* Similarly the woman who died in the character 
of the Corn-mother at the Mexican midsummer sacrifice had 
her face painted red and yellow in token of the colours of 
the com, and she wore a pasteboard mitre surmounted by 
waving plumes in imitation of the tassel of the maize.^ On 
the other hand, at the festival of the Goddess of the White 
Maize the Mexicans sacrificed lepers.* The Romans sacri- 
ficed red-haired puppies in spring, believing that the crops 
would thus grow ripe and ruddy.* The Sabaeans offered to 
the sun, moon, and planets human victims who were chosen 
on the ground of their supposed resemblance to the heavenly 
bodies to which they were sacrificed ; for example, the priests, 

1 £. Meyer, CeschUhU dcs Alter- ^ Brasseur de Bourbonrg, Histoire 

thums^ i* § 57* ^^ Nations civilis^es du Mtxique et de 

' Diodonl!^ L 88 ; Plutarch, Is, et tAmirique Centrales iii. 535. 
Os. 73, compare 30, 33. • Festus, J.r. Catularia. Cp. «/., 

3 Above, pp. 143, 239 sq,y 247. sa\ Kutilac tanes\ Columella, De re 

* E. J. Pa)'ne, History of the New rustica^ x. 342 sq, ; Ovid, Fasti^ iv. 

World called America^ i. 422. 905 sqq, ; Pliny, Nat. Hist. xviiL I4. 


clothed in red and smeared with blood, offered a red-haired, 
red-cheeked man to "the red planet Mars" in a temple 
which was painted red and draped with red hangings.* 
These and the like cases of assimilating the victim to the 
god, or to the natural phenomenon which he represents, 
are based ultimately on the principle of sympathetic or 
imitative magic, the notion being that the object aimed 
at will be most readily attained by means of a sacrifice 
which resembles the effect that it is designed to bring about. 
Again, the scattering of the Egyptian victim's ashes over 
the fields resembles the Marimo and Khond custom,* and the 
use of winnowing-fans for the purpose is another hint of his 
identification with the com. So in Vendte a pretence is 
made of threshing and winnowing the farmer's wife, regarded 
as an embodiment of the corn-spirit ; in Mexico the victim 
was ground between stones ; and in Africa he was slain with 
spades and hoes." The story that the fragments of Osiris's 
body were scattered up and down the land, and buried by 
Isis on the spots where they lay,* may very well be a 
reminiscence of a custom, like that observed by the Khohds, 
of dividing the human victim in pieces and burying the 
pieces, often at intervals of many miles from each other, in 
the fields. However, it is possible that the story of the dis- 
memberment of Osiris, like the similar story told of Tammuz, 
may have been simply a mythical expression for the scatter- 
ing of the seed. Once more, the legend that the body of 
Osiris enclosed in a coffer was thrown by Typhon into the 
Nile perhaps points to a custom of casting the body of the 
victim, or at least a portion of it, into the Nile as a rain- 
charm, or rather to make the Nile rise. For a similar 
purpose Phrygian reapers seem to have flung the headless 
bodies of their victims, wrapt in corn-sheaves, into a river, 
and the Khonds poured water on the buried flesh of the 
human victim. Probably when Osiris ceased to be repre- 
sented by a human victim, an image of him was annually 
thrown into the Nile, just as the effigy of his Syrian counter- 

1 Chwolsohn, DU Ssabier und der H. Oldenberg, Die Religion des Veda^ 

Ssahismusy ii. 388 sq. Compare ibid., pp. 77 sq,, 357-359. 
pp. 384 sq., 386 sq., 391, 393, 395, « Above, pp. 240, 245. 

397. For other instances of the as- * Above, pp. 182, 238, 239. 

similation of the victim to the god, see ^ Plutarch, Is, et Os. 18. 


I ^ 

Ill li Y A HUMAN VICTIM 257 

part, Adonis, used to be cast into the sea at Alexandria. 
Or water may have been simply poured over it, as on the 
monument already mentioned a priest is seen pouring water 
over the body of Osiris, from which com stalks are sprout- 
ing. The accompanying legend, " This is Osiris of the 
mysteries, who spring* from the returning waters," bears out 
the view that at the mysteries of Osiris a charm to make rain 
fall or the river rise was regularly wrought by pouring water 
on his efSgy or flinging it into the Nile. 

It may be objected that the red-haired victims were 
^lain as representatives not of Osiris, but of his enemy 
Typhon ; for the victims were called Typhonian, and red 
was the colour of Typhon, black the colour of Osiris.^ The 
answer to this objection must be reserved for the present. 
Meantime it may be pointed out that if Osiris is often 
represented on the monuments as black, he is still more 
commonly depicted as green,' appropriately enough for a 
corn-god, who may be conceived as black while the seed is 
under ground, but as green after it has sprouted. So the 
Greeks recognised both a green and a black Demeter,* and 
sacrificed to the green Demeter in spring with mirth and 

Thus, if I am right, the key to the mysteries of Osiris is 
furnished by the melancholy cry of the Egyptian reapers, 
which down to Roman times could be heard year after year 
sounding across the fields, announcing the death of the corn- 
spirit, the rustic prototype of Osiris. Similar cries, as we 
have seen, were also heard on all the harvest-fields of West- 
em Asia. By the ancients they are spoken of as songs ; 
but to judg^ from the analysis of the names Linus and 
Maneros, they probably consisted only of a few words 
uttered in a prolonged musical note which could be heard 
for a great distance. Such sonorous and long-drawn cries, 
raised by a number of strong voices in concert, must have 

^ Plutarch, /r. ^ Os, 22, 30, 31, 33, * Corautus, J>e malum deorum^ .28. 

73. Green Demeter was worshipped at 

* Wilkinson^ Manners and Customs Athens and in the bland of Myconos. 
tf the Ancient Egyptians (ed. 1878), See Pausanias, i 22. 3, with my note ; 
iii. 81. Dittenberger, SylUge Jnscripiianum 

* Pausanias, i. 22. 3, viiL 5. 8, viii. Graeeamm, No. 373. 
42. I. 


258 HARVEST CRIES chap. 

had a striking effect, and could hardly fail to arrest the 
attention of any traveller who happened to be within hear- 
ing. The sounds, repeated again and again, could probably 
be distinguished with tolerable ease even at a distance ; but f 
to a Greek traveller in Asia or Egypt the foreign words would \ 
commonly convey no meaning, and he might take them, not 
unnaturally, for the name of some one (Maneros, Linus, ; 
Lityerses, Bormus) upon whom the reapers were calling. 
And if his journey led him through more countries than 
one, as Bithynia and Phrygia, or Phoenicia and Egypt, 
while the com was being reaped, he would have an oppor- 
tunity of comparing the various harvest cries of the different 
peoples. Thus we can readily understand why these harvest 
cries were so often noted and compared with each other by 
the Greeks. Whereas, if they had been r^^ular songs, they 
could not have been heard at such distances, and therefore 
could not have attracted the attention of so many travellers ; 
and, moreover, even if the traveller were within hearing of 
them, he could not so easily have picked out the words. 

To this day Devonshire reapers utter cries of the same 
sort, and perform on the field a ceremony exactly analogous 
to that in which, if I am not mistaken, the rites of Osiris 
originated. The cry and the ceremony are thus described 
by an observer who wrote in the first half of the nineteenth 
century. " After the wheat is all cut, on most farms in the 
north of Devon, the harvest people have a custom of ' crying 
the neck.' I believe that this practice is seldom omitted on 
any large farm in that part of the country. It is done in this 
way. An old man, or some one else well acquainted with 
the ceremonies used on the occasion (when the labourers are 
reaping the last field of wheat), goes round to the shocks and 
sheaves, and picks out a little bundle of all the best ears he 
can find ; this bundle he ties up very neat and trim, and 
plats and arranges the straws very tastefully. This is called 
* the neck ' of wheat, or wheaten-ears. After the field is cut 
out, and the pitcher once more circulated, the reapers, binders, 
and the women stand round in a circle. The person with 
' the neck ' stands in the centre, grasping it with both his 
hands. He first stoops and holds it near the ground, and 
all the men forming the ring take off their hats, stooping 



and holding them with both hands towards the ground. 
They then all begin at once in a very prolonged and har- 
monious tone to cry * The neck ! ' at the same time slowly 
raising themselves upright, and elevating their arms and hats 
above their heads ; the person with * the neck ' also raising 
it on high. This is done three times. They then change 
their cry to * Wee yen ! ' — ' Way yen ! ' — ^which they sound in 
the same prolonged and slow manner as before, with singular 
harmony and effect, three times. This last cry is accompanied 
by the same movements of the body and arms as in crying 
' the neck.* . . . After having thus repeated * the neck ' three 
times, and * wee yen,' or ' way yen,' as often, they all burst 
out into a kind of loud and joyous laugh, flinging up their 
hats and caps into the air, capering about and perhaps 
kissing the girls. One of them then gets ' the neck ' and 
runs as hard as he can down to the farmhouse, where the 
dairymaid or one of the young female domestics stands at 
the door prepared with a pail of water. If he who holds 
^ the neck ' can manage to get into the house, in any way 
unseen, or openly, by any other way than the door at which 
the girl stands with the pail of water, then he may lawfully 
kiss her ; but, if otherwise, he is regularly soused with the 
contents of the bucket. On a fine still autumn evening, the 
' crying of the neck ' has a wonderful effect at a distance, far 
iiner than that of the Turkish muezzin, which Lord Byron 
eulogises so much, and which he says is preferable to all the 
bells in Christendom. I have once or twice heard upwards 
of twenty men cry it, and sometimes joined by an equal 
number of female voices. About three years back, on some 
high grounds, where our people were har\'esting, I heard six 
or seven ' necks ' cried in one night, although I know that 
some of them were four miles off. They are heard through 
the quiet evening air, at a considerable distance sometimes." ^ 
Again, Mrs. Bray tells how, travelling in Devonshire, " she 
saw a party of reapers standing in a circle on a rising 
ground, holding their sickles aloft One in the middle held 
up some ears of com tied together with flowers, and the 
party shouted three times (what she writes as) 'Arnack, 
amack, amack, we Jutven^ we haven^ we fiaven* They 

^ Hone, Everyday Book^ iL coL 1 1 70 sq. 

26o CRYING THE NECK chap. 

went home, accompanied by women and children carry- 
ing boughs of flowers, shouting and singing. The man- 
servant who attended Mrs. Bray said * it was only the people 
making their games, as they always did, to the spirit of 
Jiarvest! " ' Here, as Miss Bume remarks, " * amack, we 
haven ! ' is obviously in the Devon dialect, * a neck (or nack) ! } 
we have un!'" "The neck" is generally hung up in the 
farmhouse, where it sometimes remains for two or three 
years.^ A similar custom is still observed in some parts . 
of Cornwall, as I was told by my lamented friend J. H. 
Middleton. " The last sheaf is decked with ribbons. Two 
strong-voiced men are chosen and placed (one with the 
sheaf) on opposite sides of a valley. One shouts, * I've | 
gotten it.' The other shouts, 'What hast gotten?' The j 
first answers, * I'se gotten the neck.' " • \ 

In these Devonshire and Cornish customs a particular j 
bunch of ears, generally the last left standing,* is conceived 
as the neck of the corn-spirit, who is consequently beheaded 
when the bunch is cut down. Similarly in Shropshire the 
name " neck," or ** the gander's neck," used to be commonly 
given to the last handful of ears left standing in the middle 
of the field, when all the rest of the com was cut It was 
plaited together, and the reapers, standing ten or twenty 
paces off, threw their sickles at it Whoever cut it through 
was said to have cut off the gander's neck. The " neck " 
was taken to the farmer's wife, who was supposed to keep 
it in the house for good luck till the next harvest came 
round.* Near Trives, the man who reaps the last standing 
com "cuts the goat's neck off."* At Faslane, on the 
Gareloch (Dumbartonshire), the last handful of standing 
com was sometimes called the "head."^ At Aurich, in 
East Friesland, the man who reaps the last corn " cuts the 

^ Miss C. S. Burne and Miss G. F. Cornish fimnhouse ; it generally stayed 

Jackson, Shropshirt Folk-hrt^ p. 372 there throughout the year, 

jy., referring to Mrs. Bray's Traditions 4 Brand, Popular Antiquities, ii. 20 

of Devon, L 330. (Bohn's ed.); Bume and Jackson, op, 

* Hone, op. cit. ii. 1172. ^. p. 371. 

» The Rev. Sydney Cooper, of 80 5 ^urne and Jackson, /.r. 

Gloucester Street, Cirencester, wntes « \ir %# u j. *#- ^r r r 

to m« (4th Febnury 1893) that hU * ^- Mannhardt. Myth. Foruk. p. 

wife remembers the " neck " being kept ^* 

on the mantelpiece of the parlour in a ^ See above, p. 185. 


hare's tail off." ^ In mowing down the last corner of a field 
French reapers sometimes call out, " We have the cat by the 
tail." * In Bresse (Bourgogne) the last sheaf represented the 
fox. Beside it a score of ears were left standing to form 
the tail, and each reaper, going back some paces, threw his 
sickle at it. He who succeeded in severing it " cut off the 
fox's tail," and a cry of " You cou cau ! " was raised in his 
honour.* These examples leave no room to doubt the 
meaning of the Devonshire and Cornish expression "the 
neck," as applied to the last sheaf The corn-spirit is con- 
ceived in human or animal form, and the last standing corn 
is part of its body — its neck, its head, or its tail. Some- 
times, as we have seen, the last com is r^arded as the 
navel-string.* Lastly, the Devonshire custom of drenching 
with water the person who brings in " the neck " is a rain- 
charm, such as we have had many examples of. Its parallel 
in the mysteries of Osiris was the custom of pouring water on 
the image of Osiris or on the person who represented him. 

In Germany cries of Waul! or Wol! or WSld ! are 
sometimes raised by the reapers at cutting the last com. 
Thus in some places the last patch of standing rye was 
called the Waul-ry^ ; a stick decked with flowers was in- 
serted in it, and the ears were fastened to the stick. Then 
all the reapers took off their hats and cried thrice, " Waul ! 
Waul ! Waul ! " Sometimes they accompanied the cry by 
clashing with their whetstones on their scythes.* 

§ 10. The Corn'Spirti as an Animal 

In some of the examples which I have cited to establish 
the meaning of the term " neck " as applied to the last sheaf, 
the corn-spirit appears in animal form as a gander, a goat, a 

^ W. Manohardt, Myth, Forsch, p. Opfergebrduche hei Ackerbau und VUh^ 

185. zucktf pp. 166-169 ; Pfannenschmid, 

t JbitC Germanischc EmtefeUe^ p. 104 sq, ; 

3 Revue des Traditions populaira, Kuhn^ »\'(/&V/V.>i. .Vfl,,^«, Cebraucke 

ii fi887\ n coo ""^ Marchen, 11. p. 177 sq., §§ 491, 

u. i »»o7;. p. 500. ^^2 . YiyxYm und Schwartz. NarddaUsche 

\ Above, p. 182. Sagat^ Marchat tmdCebriUuhe, p. 395, 

** 'E.}At\tT,\TiZeitsihrifi ftirdetttsche § 97; Lynker, Deutsche Sai;;en und 

Alythologie und Sittenkmuie^ \, {\%ll)^ Sitttn in hessisthen Gaiten^ p. 256, 

pp. 170-173 ; U. Jahn, Die dcutscken § 340. 

I ' 

262 THE CORN'SPIRIT chap. 

hare, a cat, and a fox. This introduces us to a new aspect 
of the corn-spirit, which we must now examine. By doing 
so we shall not only have fresh examples of killing the god, 
but may hope also to clear up some points which remain ^ 
obscure in the myths and worship of Attis, Adonis, Osiris, 
Dionysus, Demeter, and Virbius. : 

Amongst the many animals whose forms the corn-spirit is 
supposed to take are the wolf, dog, hare, cock, goose, cat, 
goat, cow (ox, bull), pig, and horse. In one or other of these j \ 
shapes the corn-spirit is believed to be present in the com, 
and to be caught or killed in the last sheaf. As the com is 
being cut the animal flees before the reapers, and if a reaper 
is taken ill on the field, he is supposed to have stumbled 
unwittingly on the corn-spirit, who has thus punished the 
profane intruder. It is said " the Rye-wolf has got hold of 
him," " the Harvest-goat has given him a push." The person 
who cuts the last com or binds the last sheaf gets the name 
of the animal, as the Rye-wolf, the Rye-sow, the Oats-goat, \ 
and so forth, and retains the name sometimes for a year. 
Also the animal is frequently represented by a puppet made 
out of the last sheaf or of wood, flowers, and so on, which is 
carried home amid rejoicings on the last harvest-waggon. 
Even where the last sheaf is not made up in animal shape, it 
is often called the Rye-wolf, the Hare, Goat, and so forth. 
Generally each kind of crop is supposed to have its special 
animal, which is caught in the last sh^tf, and called the 
Rye-wolf, the Barley-wolf, the Oats-wolf, the Pea-wolf, or the 
Potato-wolf, according to the crop ; but sometimes the figure 
of the animal is only made up once for all at getting in the 
last crop of the whole harvest. Sometimes the creature is 
believed to be killed by the last stroke of the sickle or scythe. 
But oftener it is thought to live so long as there is com still 
unthreshed, and to be caught in the last sheaf threshed. 
Hence the man who gives the last stroke with the flail is told 
that he has got the Com-sow, the Threshing-dog, or the like. 
When the threshing is finished, a puppet is made in the 
form of the animal, and this is carried by the thresher of the 
last sheaf to a neighbouring farm, where the threshing is still 
going on. This again shows that the corn-spirit is believed 
to live wherever the com is still being threshed. Sometimes 


the thresher of the last sheaf himself represents the animal ; 
and if the people of the next farm, who are still threshing, 
catch him, they treat him like the animal he represents, by 
shutting him up in the pig-sty, calling him with the cries 
commonly addressed to pigs and so forth.^ 

These general statements will now be illustrated by 
examples. We begin with the corn -spirit conceived as a 
wolf or a dog. Thi^ conception is common in France, 
Germany, and Slavonic countries. Thus, when the wind 
sets the com in wave-like motion, the peasants often say^ 
" The Wolf is going over, or through, the com," " the Rye- 
wolf is rushing over the field," ** the Wolf is in the com," 
"the mad Dog is in the com," "the big Dog is there."* 
When children wish to go into the corn-fields to pluck ears 
• or gather the blue corn-flowers, they are warned not to do so, 
for " the big Dog sits in the corn," or " the Wolf sits in the 
com, and will tear you in pieces," " the Wolf will eat you." 
The wolf against whom the children are wamed is not a 
common wolf, for he is often spoken of as the Corn-wolf, 
Rye-wolf, or the like ; thus they say, " The Rye-wolf will 
come and cat you up, children," " the Rye-wolf will carry 
you off*," and so forth.* Still he has all the outward appear- 
ance of a wolf. For in the neighbourhood of Feilenhof (East 
Pmssia), when a wolf was seen running through a field, the 
peasants used to watch whether he carried his tail in the air 
or dragged it on the ground. If he dragged it on the 
ground, they went after him, and thanked him for bringing 
them a blessing, and even set tit-bits before him. But if he 
carried his tail high, they cursed him and tried to kill him. 
Here the wolf is the corn-spirit, whose fertilising power is in 
his tail.^ 

Both dog and wolf appear as embodiments of the com- 
spirit in harvest-customs. Thus in some parts of Silesia the 

* Vf, Muinhudt, Die AifmdSfW/Ufi, schrifl des Vereins fur VpiJkskunde^ 

pp. I -6. vii. ( 1 897), p. 1 50 ; W. Muller, Beitrage 

' W. Mannhardt, Roggenwolf und zur Volkskunde der Dtutschen in 

Rogginhund (Danzig, 1865), p. 5 ; Mdhrat^ p. 327. 

,V£. Aniik, WM. unJ FcUkulU, p. , ^^ Mannhardt, Rogpnwo^ und 

\\osq,\ td.t Afythoi. Forsch. vt. 103; „ l j • -j J itr ir 

\riJc:^t\,S:igen,SiitenundGLaJke ^^^'^««^. P- 7 W; t^-. A.W.F. 

aus Tkiiringen^ p. 213 ; O. Ilartung, P' ^ '* 

<* Zur Volkskunde aus Anhalt,'* Zeii- < W. Mannhardt, Roggnvivplf^ p. 10. 

264 THE CORN-SPIRIT chap. 

person who binds the last sheaf is called the Wheat-dog or 
the Peas-pug.^ But it is in the harvest-customs of the north- 
east of France that the idea of the Corn-dog comes out most 
clearly. Thus when a harvester, through sickness, weariness, 
or laziness, cannot or will not keep up with the reaper in 
front of him, they say, " The White Dog passed near him," 
"he has the White Bitch," or " the White Bitch has bitten 
him." * In the Vosges the Harvest-May is called the " Dog 
of the harvest," • and the person who cuts the last handful of \ 

hay or wheat is said to " kill the Dog." * About Lons-le- 
Saulnier, in the Jura, the last sheaf is called the Bitch. In 
the neighbourhood of Verdun the regular expression for 
finishing the reaping is, " They are going to kill the Dog " ; 
and at Epinal they say, according to the crop, " We will kill 
the Wheat-dog, or the Rye-dog, or the Potato-dog." * In 
Lorraine it is said of the man who cuts the last com, " He 
is killing the Dog of the harvest"* At Dux, in the Tyrol, 
the man who gives the last stroke at threshing is said to 
" strike down the Dog " ; ^ and at Ahnebergen, near Stade, 
he is called, according to the crop. Com -pug, Rye-pug, 
Wheat-pug.* i 

So with the wolf. In Grermany it is said that "the 
Wolf sits in the last sheaf." * In some places they call out 
to the reaper, "Beware of the Wolf" ; or they say, " He is 
chasing the Wolf out of the com."^* The last bunch of 
standing com is called the Wolf, and the man who cuts it 
" has the Wolf." The last sheaf is also called the Wolf ; 
and of the woman who binds it they say, "The Wolf is 
biting her," "she has the Wolf," "she must fetch the Wolf" 
(out of the com)." Moreover, she is herself called Wolf and 
has to bear the name for a whole year ; sometimes, according 
to the crop, she is called the Rye-wolf or the Potato-wolf. ^* 
In the island of Riigen they call out to the woman who binds 
the last sheaf, "You're Wolf"; and when she comes home 

1 W. Mannhardt, M.F. p. 104- * I^'d- P« 30. 

* Ibid. ' Ibid, ppw 30, 105. 
' Ibid. p. 104 sq. On the Harvest- * Ibid. p. 105 sq. 

May, tee above, vol. i. p. 190. * A. IV.F. p. 320; RoggeHWolf^ p. 24. 

* Sauv^f Folk-lore des Hautei- Vosges^ •• Roggenwolf^ p. 24. 
p. 191. " Ibid. 

* W. Mannhardt, M.F. p. 105. >* Ibid. p. 25. 

ill AS A IVOLF 265 

she bites the lady of the house and the stewardess, for which 
she receives a large piece of meat. The same woman may 
be Rye-wolf, Wheat-wolf, and Oats-wolf, if she happens to 
bind the last sheaf of rye, wheat, and oats.^ At Buir, in the 
district of Cologne, it was formerly the custom to give to the 
last sheaf the shape of a wolf. It was kept in the barn till 
all the corn was threshed. Then it was brought to the 
farmer, and he had to sprinkle it with beer or brandy.^ In 
many places the sheaf called the Wolf is made up in human 
form and dressed in clothes. This indicates a confusion of 
ideas between the corn-spirit conceived in human and in 
animal form.® Generally the Wolf is brought home on the 
last waggon, with joyful cries.* 

Again, the Wolf is supposed to hide himself amongst the 
cut com in the granary, until he is driven out of the last 
bundle by the strokes of the flail. Hence at Wanzleben, 
near Magdeburg, after the threshing the peasants go in pro- 
cession, leading by a chain a man who is enveloped in the 
threshed-out straw and is called the Wolf. * He represents 
the corn-spirit who has been caught escaping from the 
threshed com. In Trier it is believed that the Corn-wolf is 
tilled at threshing. The men thresh the last sheaf till it is 
reduced to chopped straw. In this way they think that the 
Corn-wolf, who was lurking in the last sheaf, has been 
certainly killed.* 

In France also the Corn -wolf appears at harvest 
Thus they call out to the reaper of the last com, " You will 
catch the Wolf." Near Chamb^ry they form a ring round 
the last standing com, and cry, "The Wolf is in there." 
In Finisterre, when the reaping draws near an end, the 
harvesters cry, "There is the Wolf; we will catch him." 
Each takes a swath to reap, and he who finishes first calls 
out, " I've caught the Wolf." " In Guyenne, when the last 
corn has been reaped, they lead a wether all round the field. 
It is called " the Wolf of the field." Its horns are decked 
with a wreath of flowers and corn-ears, and its neck and 

' Roggcfiwoif, p. 28; A.IV.F. p. * Ibid. p. 26; A.IV,F, p. 320. 

320. * A.IKF, p. 321. 

« fh'd, p. 25. « AAKF. p. 321 sg, 

* /dtW. p. 26. ^ /A/V/. p. 32a 




body are also encircled with garlands and ribbons. All the 
reapers march, singing, behind it. Then it is killed on the 
field. In this part of France the last sheaf is called the 
coujoulage^ which, in the patois, means a wether. Hence 
the killing of the wether represents the death of the corn- 
spirit, considered as present in the last sheaf; but two 
different conceptions of the corn-spirit — as a wolf and as a 
wether — are mixed up together.^. 

Sometimes it appears to be thought that the Wolf, 
caught in the last corn, lives during the winter in the farm- 
house, ready to renew his activity as corn-spirit in the spring. 
Hence at midwinter, when the lengthening days begin to 
herald the approach of spring, the Wolf makes his appear- 
ance once more. In Poland a man, with a wolfs skin 
thrown over his head, is led about at Christmas ; or a 
stuffed wolf is carried about by persons who collect money.* 
There are facts which point to an old custom of leading 
about a man enveloped in leaves and called the Wolf, while 
his conductors collected money.' 

Another form which the com -spirit often assumes is that 
of a cock. In Austria children are warned against straying 
in the corn-fields, because the Corn-cock sits there, and will 
peck their eyes out* In North Germany they say that " the 
Cock sits in the last sheaf"; and at cutting the last com the 
reapers cry, " Now we will chase out the Cock." When it is 
cut they say, " We have caught the Cock." Then a cock is 
made of flowers, fastened on a pole, and carried home by the 
reapers, singing as they go.* At Braller, in Transylvania, 
when the reapers come to the last patch of com, they cry, 
" Here we shall catch the Cock." • At Furstenwalde, when 
the last sheaf is about to be bound, the master releases 
a cock, which he has brought in a basket, and lets it mn 
over the field. All the harvesters chase it till they catch it. 
Elsewhere the harvesters all try to seize the last com cut ; 


> A.W.F, p. 320 J^. 

* IbicL p. 322. 

5 Ibid. p. 323. 

^ Die Komdamtmen^ p. 13. 

^ Ibid, ; Schmitz, Sitten und Sagen 
dis Eifler Volkei, L 95 ; Kuhn, Weit- 

fdlische Sagtn^ Mdrchen und Ct- 
brdmhe^VL 181 ; Kuhn und Schwartz, 
Norddeuttche Sagen^ Mdrchen und 
CebruucAe, p. 398. 

* G. A. Heinrich, Agrariuhe Sitten 
und Gebriiuche unter den Sackseti 
Siebenhiirgms, p. 21. 




he who succeeds in grasping it must crow, and is called 
Cock.^ Among the Wends it is or used to be customary 
for the farmer to hide a live cock under the last sheaf as 
it lay on the field ; and when the corn was being gathered 
up, the harvester who lighted upon this sheaf had a 
right to keep the cock, provided he could catch it. This 
formed the close of the harvest-festival and was known as 
"the Cock-catching," and the beer which was served out 
to the reapers at this time went by the name of "Cock- 
beer."* The last sheaf is called Cock, Cock-sheaf, Harvest- 
cock, Harvest-hen, Autumn-hen. A distinction is made 
between a Wheat-cock, Bean-cock, and so on, according to 
the crop.' At Wiinschensuhl, in Thiiringen, the last sheaf 
is made into the shape of a cock, and called Harvest-cock.^ 
A figure of a cock, made of wood, pasteboard, or ears of 
com, is borne in front of the harvest-waggon, especially in 
Westphalia, where the cock carries in his beak fruits of the 
earth of all kinds. Sometimes the image of the cock is 
fastened to the top of a May-tree on the last harvest-waggon. 
Elsewhere a live cock, or a figure of one, is attached to a 
harvest-crown and carried on a pole. In Galicia and else- 
where this live cock is fastened to the garland of corn-ears 
or flowers, which the leader of the women-reapers carries on 
her head as she marches in front of the harvest procession.^ 
In Silesia a live cock is presented to the master on a plate. 
The harvest-supper is called Harvest-cock, Stubble-cock, etc., 
and a chief dish at it, at least in some places, is a cock.^ If 
a waggoner upsets a harvest-waggon, it is said that " he has 
spilt the Harvest-cock," and be loses the cock, that is, the 
harvest-supper.^ The harvest -waggon, with the figure of 

^ Die JComdamanen^ p. 13. Cp. 
Kuhn and Schwartz, /.r. 

^ K. Hanpt, Sagenbuch der Lausitz^ 
i. p. 232, No. 277 note. 

' Die Komddmofun, p. 13. 

* Witzschel, Sagtn^ Siiten und 
Gebr&uche aus T^iirimen^ p. 220. 

^ Die Komddmonen^ p. 13 sq, ; 
Kuhn, WesifdHsche Sagen^ Marchen 
und Gdtrduche^ ii. 180 sq,\ Pfannen- 
schmid, Germam'sche Emteftste^ p. 1 10. 

* Die Komddmonen^ P* 14 » Pfan- 
nenschmid, op. cit, pp. iii, 419 x^. 

^ Die Komddmonen^ p. 15. So in 
Shropshire, where the corn-spirit is 
conceived in the form of a gander 
(see above, p. 260), the expression 
for overthrowing a load at harvest is 
** to lose the goose,** and the penalty 
used to be the loss of the goose at the 
harvest-supper (Bume and Jackson, 
Shropshire Folk-lore, p. 375) ; and in 
some parts of England the harvest- 
supper was called the Harvest Gosling, 
or the Inning Goose (Brand, Popular 
Antiquities, ii. 23, 26, Bohn*s ed.). 




the cock on it, is driven round the farmhouse before it is 
taken to the bam. Then the cock is nailed over, or at 
the side of the house-door, or on the gable, and remains there 
till next harvest.^ In East Friesland the person who gives 
the last stroke at threshing is called the Clucking-hen, and 
grain is strewed before him as if he were a hen.* 

Again, the corn-spirit is killed in the form of a cock. 
In parts of Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Picardy the 
reapers place a live cock in the com which is to be cut last, 
and chase it over the field, or bury it up to the neck in the 
ground ; afterwards they strike off its head with a sickle or 
scythe.' In many parts of Westphalia, when the harvesters 
bring the wooden cock to the farmer, he gives them a live 
cock, which they kill with whips or sticks, or behead with 
an old sword, or throw into the bam to the girls, or give 
to the mistress to cook. If the harvest -cock has not 
been spilt — ^that is, if no waggon has been upset — ^the 
harvesters have the right to kill the farmyard cock by 
throwing stones at it or beheading it Where this custom 
has fallen into disuse, it is still common for the farmer's wife 
to make cockie-leekie for the harvesters, and to show them 
the head of the cock which has been killed for the soup.^ In 
the neighbourhood of Klausenburg, Transylvania, a cock is 
buried on the harvest-field in the earth, so that only its head 
appears. A young man then takes a scythe and cuts off the 
cock's head at a single sweep. If be fails to do this, he 
is called the Red Cock for a whole year, and people fear 
that next year's crop will be bad.* Near Udvarhely, 
in Transylvania, a live cock is bound up in the last sheaf 
and killed with a spit It is then skinned. The fiesh 
is thrown away, but the skin and feathers are kept till next 
year ; and in spring the grain from the last sheaf is mixed 
with the feathers of the cock and scattered on the field which 
is to be tilled.^ Nothing could set in a clearer light the 
identification of the cock with the spirit of the com. By 
being tied up in the last sheaf and killed, the cock is identi- 
fied with the com, and its death with the cutting of the com. 

^ Die Komddmonen^ p. 14. 
* IbidL p. 1$. 
^ M,F, p. 30. 

^ Die Komddmotun^ p. 15. 

* Ibid, p. 15 sq, 

• Ibid, p. IS ; ^f'F, p. 30. 



By keeping its feathers till spring, then mixing them with 
the seed-corn taken from, the very sheaf in which the bird 
had been bound, and scattering the feathers together with 
the seed over the field, the identity of the bird with the com 
is again emphasised, and its quickening and fertilising power, 
as the corn-spirit, is intimated in the plainest manner. Thus 
the corn-spirit, in the form of a cock, is killed at harvest, but 
rises to fresh life and activity in spring. Again, the equiva- 
lence of the cock to the com is expressed, hardly less plainly, 
in the custom of burying the bird in the ground, and cutting 
off its head (like the ears of com) with the sc)^he. 

Another common embodiment of the corn-spirit is the 
hare.* In Galloway the reaping of the last standing corn 
is called " cutting the Hare." The mode of cutting it is as 
follows. When the rest of the com has been reaped, a 
handful is left standing to form the Hare. It is divided 
into three parts and plaited, and the ears are tied in a knot 
The reapers then retire a few yards and each throws his or 
her sickle in tum at the Hare to cut it down. It must be 
cut below the knot, and the reapers continue to throw their 
sickles at it, one after the other, until one of them succeeds 
in severing the stalks below the knot The Hare is then 
carried home and given to a maidservant in the kitchen, who 
places it over the kitchen-door on the inside. Sometimes 
the Hare used to be thus kept till the next harvest In the 
parish of Minnigaff, when the Hare was cut, the unmarried 
reapers ran home with all speed, and the one who arrived 
first was the first to be married.* In Sou them Ayrshire the 
last com cut is also called the Hare, and the mode of cutting 
it seems to be the same as in Galloway ; at least in the 
neighbourhood of Kilmamock the last com left standing in 
the middle of the field is plaited, and the reapers used to 
try to cut it by throwing their sickles at it When cut, it 
was carried home and hung up over the door.' In the 
Vosges the person who cuts the last handful of hay or wheat 
is said to have caught the Hare ; he is congratulated by his 

* DU JComddmonen, p. I. Refcrt of the British Association fir 

1896, p. 623. 

• W. Gregor, " Preliminary Report * Folk-lore Journal^ vU. (1889), p. 47 
on Folklore in Galloway, Scotland,** sq. 




comrades and has the honour of carrying the nosegay or the 
small fir-tree decorated with ribbons which marks the con- 
clusion of the harvest.^ In Germany also one of the names 
for the last sheaf is the Hare,^ Thus in some parts of 
Anhalt, when the corn has been reaped and only a few stalks 
are left standing, they say, " The Hare will soon come," or 
the reapers cry to each other, " Look how the Hare comes 

jumping out"' In East Prussia they say that the Hare sits in 
the last patch of standing com, and must be chased out by the 
last reaper. The reapers hurry with their work, each being 
anxious not to have " to chase out the Hare " ; for the man 
who does so, that is, who cuts the last com, is much laughed 
at* At Birk, in Transylvania, when the reapers come to the 
last patch, they cry out, " We have the Hare," * At Aurich, 
as we have seen,' an expression for cutting the last com is 
** to cut off the Hare's tail." " He is killing the Hare " is 
commonly said of the man who cuts the last corn in Ger- 
many, Sweden, Holland, France, and Italy/ In Norway 
the man who is thus said to **kill the Hare" must give 
** hare's blood," in the form of brandy, to his fellows to 
drink." ® In Lesbos when the reapers are at work in two 
neighbouring fields, each party tries to finish first in order 
to drive the Hare into their neighbour's field ; the reapers 
who succeed in doing so believe that next year the crop 
will be better. A small sheaf of com is made up and kept 
beside the holy picture till next harvest* 

Again, the corn-spirit sometimes takes the form of a cat^® 
Near Kiel children are wamed not to go into the corn-fields 
because " the Cat sits there." In the Eisenach Oberland they 
are told ** the Corn-cat will come and fetch you," " the Corn- 
cat goes in the com." In some parts of Silesia at mowing 


* Sauv^, Folk-lore tUs ffauUs- Vosges^ 
p. 191. 

^ W. Mannhardt, Die Komddmonen, 
p. 3- 

' O. Hartung, <* Zur Volkskunde 
aus Anhalt,** Zeitschrift des Vercins fiir 
Volkskunde^ vii. (1897), p. 154. 

^ Lemke, Volksihiimliches in Osi- 
preussen^ i. 24. 

^ G. A. Heinrich, Agrarische Sitten 

und Cehrauche unter den Sachsen Sie- 
benbiirgem, p. 21. 

* Above, p. 260 sq, 
^ M.F, p. 29. 

* Ibid p. 29 sq, ; Die Korndd- 
rnonen^ p. 5. 

* Georgeakis et Pineau, Folk-lore de 
Lesbos (Paris, 1894), p. 310. 

w AJV,F, pp. 172-174; M.F. p. 
30 ; SauT^, Folk-lore des Hauies- Vosges, 
p. 191. 


the last corn they say, " The Cat is caught " ; and at threshing, 
the man who gives the last stroke is called the Cat. In 
the neighbourhood of Lyons the last sheaf and the harvest- 
supper are both called the Cat About Vesoul when they 
cut the last corn they say, " We have the Cat by the tail." 
At Brian9on, in Dauphin^, at the beginning of reaping, a 
cat is decked out with ribbons, flowers, and ears of com. It 
is called the Cat of the ball-skin {le chat de peau de balle). 
If a reaper is wounded at his work, they make the cat lick 
the wound. At the close of the reaping the cat is ag^in 
decked out with ribbons and ears of corn ; then they dance 
and make merry. When the dance is over the girls solemnly 
strip the cat of its finery. At Griineberg, in Silesia, the 
reaper who cuts the last com goes by the name of the 
Tom-cat He is enveloped in rye-stalks and green withes, 
and is fumished with a long plaited tail. Sometimes as a 
companion he has a man similarly dressed, who is called the 
(female) Cat Their duty is to run after people whom they 
see and beat them with a long stick. Near Amiens the 
expression for finishing the harvest is, " They are going to 
kill the Cat " ; and when the last corn is cut they kill a cat 
in the farmyard. At threshing, in some parts of France, a 
live cat is placed under the last bundle of com to be threshed, 
and is struck dead with the flails. Then on Sunday it is 
roasted and eaten as a holiday dish. 

Further, the corn-spirit often appears in the form of a 
goat In some parts of Prussia, when the com bends before 
the wind, they say, "The Goats are chasing each other," 
" the wind is driving the Goats through the corn," " the 
Goats are browsing there," and they expect a very good 
harvest Again they say, " The Oats-goat is sitting in the 
oats-field," "the Cora-goat is sitting in the rye-field."^ 
Children are wamed not to go into the com-fields to pluck 
the blue com-flowers, or amongst the beans to pluck pods, 
because the Rye-goat, the Com-goat, the Oats-goat, or the 
Bean-goat is sitting or lying there, and will carry them away 
or kill them.* When a harvester is taken sick or lags 
behind his fellows at their work, they call out, " The Harvest- 

> W. Mannhardt, A.IV,F, p. 155 sq. 
« IbicL p. 157 sq. 




goat has pushed him," " he has been pushed by the Corn- 
goat." * In the neighbourhood of Braunsberg (East Prussia) 
at binding the oats every harvester makes haste " lest the 
Corn-goat push him." At Oefoten, in Norway, each harvester 
has his allotted patch to reap. When a harvester in the middle 
has not finished reaping his piece after his neighbours have 
finished theirs, they say of him, " He remains on the island.*' 
And if the laggard is a man, they imitate the cry with which 
they call a he-goat ; if a woman, the cry with which they 
call a she-goat.* Near Straubing, in Lower Bavaria, it is said 
of the man who cuts the last com that " he has the Corn- 
goat or the Wheat-goat, or the Oats-goat," according to 
the crop. Moreover, two horns are set up on the last heap 
of com, and it is called " the homed Goat" At Kreutzburg, 
East Prussia, they call out to the woman who is binding the 
last sheaf, " The Goat is sitting in the sheaf." • At Gab- 
lingen, in Swabia, when the last field of oats upon a farm is 
being reaped, the reapers carve a goat out of wood. Ears 
of oats are inserted in its nostrils and mouth, and it is 
adorned with garlands of flowers. It is set upon the fielcf 
and called the Oats-goat When the reaping approaches an 
end, each reaper hastens to finish his piece first ; he who is 
the last to finish gets the Oats-goat* Again, the last sheaf 
is itself called the Goat. Thus, in the valley of the Wiesent, 
Bavaria, the last sheaf bound on the field is called the Goat, 
and they have a proverb, " The field must bear a goat." * At 
Spachbnicken, in Hesse, the last handful of corn which is 
cut is called the Goat, and the man who cuts it is much 
ridiculed.^ Sometimes the last sheaf is made up in the 
form of a goat, and they say, "The Goat is sitting in it"'^ 
Again, the person who cuts or binds the last sheaf is 
called the Goat. Thus, in parts of Mecklenburg they call 
out to the woman who binds the last sheaf, "You are 
the Harvest-goat." Near Uelzen, in Hanover, the harvest 
festival begins with " the bringing of the Harvest-goat " ; that 


> W. Mannhardt, A.W.F, p. 

* Ihid, p. 161 sq. 

' Jlnd, p. 162. 

^ Panzer, Bdtrag tur deutuhen 
Mythologies ii. p. 232 sq,^ § 426 ; 
A,IV,F. p. 162. 

^ Ptozer, op. ciL ii. p. 228 j^., § 422; 
A,fV,F, p. 163; Bavaria^ Landes- 
umd VolkskundedtsJConigrtichsBoytrn^ 
iii. 344. 

• A,W,F. p. 163. 

^ Ihid. p. 164. 



AS A GOAT 273 

is, the woman who bound the last sheaf is wrapt in straw, 
crowned with a harvest -wreath, and brought in a wheel- 
barrow to the village, where a round dance takes place. 
About Luneburg, also, the woman who binds the last com is 
decked with a crown of corn-ears and is called the Corn- 
goat^ In the Canton St Gall, Switzerland, the person who 
cuts the last handful of com on the field, or drives the last 
harvest-waggon to the barn, is called the Corn-goat or the 
Rye-goat, or simply the Goat* In the Canton Thurgau he 
is called Com-goat ; like a goat he has a bell hung round his 
neck, is led in triumph, and drenched with liquor. In parts 
of Styria, also, the man who cuts the last com is called 
Com-goat, Oats-goat, or the like. As a rule, the man who 
thus gets the name of Com-goat has to bear it a whole year 
till the next harvest* 

According to one view, the com-spirit, who has been 
caught in the form of a goat or otherwise, lives in the farm- 
house or bam over winter. Thus, each farm has its own 
embodiment of the com-spirit But, according to another 
view, the com-spirit is the genius or deity, not of the com 
of one farm only, but of all the corn. Hence when the com 
on one farm is all cut, he flees to another where there is still 
com left standing. This idea is brought out in a harvest- 
custom which was formerly observed in Skye. The farmer 
who first finished reaping sent a man or woman with a 
sheaf to a neighbouring farmer who had not finished ; the 
latter in his tum, when he had finished, sent on the sheaf to 
his neighbour who was still reaping ; and so the sheaf made 
the round of the farms till all the com was cut The sheaf 
was called the goabbir bluuagh^ that is, the Cripple Goat^ 
The custom appears not to be extinct at the present day, 
for it was reported from Skye only a few years ago. We 
are told that when the crofters and small farmers are cutting 
down their corn, each tries his best to finish before his 
neighbour. The first to finish goes to his neighbour's field 
and makes up at one end of it a bundle of sheaves in a 
fanciful shape which goes by the name of the gobhar bhacach 
or Lame Goat As each man in succession finishes reaping 

> A, W,F, p. 164. « Ibid, p. 164 sq. » Ibid. p. 165. 

^ Brand, Popular Aniiguities, ii. 24, Bohn's ed. ; A. IV,F, p. 165. 


274 THE CORN-SPIRIT chap. 

his field, he proceeds to set up a lame goat of this sort in 
his neighbour's field where there is still corn standing. No 
one likes to have the Lame Goat put in his field, " not from 
any ill-luck it brings, but because it is humiliating to have it 
standing there visible to all neighbours and passers-by, and 
of course he cannot retaliate." ^ The corn -spirit was prob- [ 
ably thus represented as lame because he had been crippled | 
by the cutting of the com. We have seen that sometimes 
the old woman who brings home the last sheaf must limp 
on one foot* In the Bohmer Wald mountains, between 
Bohemia and Bavaria, when two peasants are driving home 
their com together, they race against each other to see who 
shall get home first The village boys mark the loser in the 
race, and at night they come and erect on the roof of his 
house the Oats-goat, which is a colossal fig^ure of a goat made 
of straw.' 

But sometimes the com-spirit, in the form of a goat, is 
believed to be slain on the harvest-field by the sickle or 
scythe. Thus, in the neighbourhood of Bemkastel, on the 
Moselle, the reapers determine by lot the order in which they 
shall follow each other. The first is called the fore-reaper, 
the last the tail-bearer. If a reaper overtakes the man in 
front he reaps past him, bending round so as to leave the 
slower reaper in a patch by himself. This patch is called 
the Goat ; and the man for whom '' the Goat is cut " in this 
way, is laughed and jeered at by his fellows for the rest of 
the day. When the tail-bearer cuts the last ears of com, it 
is said, " He is cutting the Goat's neck off." * In the neigh- 
bourhood of Grenoble, before the end of the reaping, a live 
goat is adorned with flowers and ribbons and allowed to run 
about the field. The reapers chase it and try to catch it 
When it is caught, the farmer's wife holds it fast while the 
farmer cuts off its head. The goat's flesh serves to furnish 
the harvest-supper. A piece of the flesh is pickled and kept 
till the next harvest, when another goat is killed. Then all 
the harvesters eat of the flesh. On the same day the skin of 

* R. C Maclagan, •* Notes on folk- * Above, p. 236. 

lore objects collected in Argyleshire," z a iv p Ac 

Folk-lore, vi. (1895), p. 151, from infor- ^' ^^'^' P* '^5- 

mation given by Mrs. C. Nicholson. ^ Ibid. p. 166 ; M.F, p. 185. 


Ill AS A GOAT 275 

the goat is made into a cloak, which the farmer, who works 
with his men, must always wear at harvest-time if rain or 
bad weather sets in. But if a reaper gets pains in his back, 
the farmer gives him the goat-skin to wear/ The reason 
for this seems to be that the pains in the back, being inflicted 
by the corn-spirit, can also be healed by it. Similarly, we 
saw that elsewhere, when a reaper is wounded at reaping, a 
cat, as the representative of the corn-spirit, is made to lick 
the wound.' Esthonian reapers in the island of Mon think 
that the man who cuts the first ears of com at harvest will 
get pains in his back,' probably because the corn-spirit is 
believed to resent especially the first wound ; and, in order to 
escape pains in the back, Saxon reapers in Transylvania gird 
their loins with the first handful of ears which they cut^ 
Here, again, the corn-spirit is applied to for healing or pro- 
tection, but in his original v^etable form, not in the form of 
a goat or a cat 

Further, the corn-spirit under the form of a goat is some- 
times conceived as lurking among the cut com in the 
barn, till he is driven from it by the threshing-flail. For 
example, near Marktl, in Upper Bavaria, the sheaves are 
called Straw-goats or simply Goats. They are laid in a 
great heap on the open field and threshed by two rows of 
men standing opposite each other, who, as they ply their 
flails, sing a song in which they say that they see the Straw- 
goat amongst the corn-stalks. The last Goat, that is, the 
last sheaf, is adorned with a wreath of violets and other 
flowers and with cakes strung together. It is placed right 
in the middle of the heap. Some of the threshers rush at 
it and tear the best of it out ; others lay on with their flails 
so recklessly that heads are sometimes broken. In thresh- 
ing this last sheaf, each man casts up to the man opposite 
him the misdeeds of which he has been guilty throughout 
the year.* At Oberinntal, in Tyrol, the last thresher is 
called Goat' At Tettnang, in VViirtemberg, the thresher who 

* A,IV,F. p. 1 66. w. Gebriiuche unter den Sachsen Siehen- 

* Above, p. 271. biirgem^ p. 19. Cp. B,K. p. 482 tqq, 
' Holnnayer, "Osiliana," Verkaiui- * Panzer, Beitrag tur deuischitt 

Itingen der geUhrten Estnischen Cesell- Mythologic^ ii. p. 225 sqq, , § 42 1 ; 
sckafi ui Dorpat^ vii. Heft 2, p. 107. A. M\h\ p. 167 sq, 

* G. A. Heinrich, Agrarische Sitieti « AAV.F. p. 168. 

276 THE CORN-SPIRIT chap. 

gives the last stroke to the last bundle of corn before it is 
turned goes by the name of the He-goat, and it is said " he 
has driven the He-goat away." The person who, after the \ 
bundle has been turned, gives the last stroke of all, is called \ 
the She-goat.^ In this custom it is implied that the com is 
inhabited by a pair of corn-spirits, male and female. Further, r 
the corn-spirit, captured in the form of a goat at threshing, 
is passed on to a neighbour whose threshing is not yet 
finished. In Franche Comt6, as soon as the threshing is j % 
over, the young people set up a straw figure of a goat on the \ * 
farmyard of a neighbour who is still threshing. He must f 
give them wine or money in return. At Ellwangen, in t 
Wiirtembei^, the effigy of a goat is made out of the last 
bundle of corn at threshing ; four sticks form its legs, and 
two its horns. The man who gives the last stroke with 
the flail must carry the Goat to the barn of a neighbour 
who is still threshing and throw it down on the floor ; if he I 
is caught in the act, they tie the Goat on his back.^ A 
similar custom is observed at Indersdorf, in Upper Bavaria ; 
the man who throws the straw Goat into the neighbour's 
bam imitates the bleating of a goat ; if they catch him, they 
blacken his face and tie the Goat on his back.' At Zabem, 
in Elsace, when a farmer is a week or more behind his neigh- 
bours with his threshing, they set a real stuffed goat or fox 
before his door.* Sometimes the spirit of the corn in goat 
form is believed to be killed at threshing. In the district of 
Traunstein, Upper Bavaria, they think that the Oats-goat is 
in the last sheaf of oats. He is represented by an old rake set 
up on end, with an old pot for a head. The children are then 
told to kill the Oats-goat* A stranger passing a harvest-field 
is sometimes taken for the Com-goat escaping in human 
shape from the cut or threshed grain. Thus, when a stranger 
passes a harvest-field, all the labourers stop and shout as with 
one voice, " He-goat ! He-goat ! ** At rape-seed threshing in 
Schleswig, which is generally done on the field, the same cry 
is raised if the stranger does not take oflf his hat' 

1 E. Meier, Deutsche Sagen^ Siiten ' Panzer, op, cit. ii. p. 224 j^., § 

und Gcbrduche aus Schwaben, p. 445, 420; A.^V.F. p. 169. 
§ 162 ; A,IV.F, p. 168. « A.IV.R p. 169. 

* Ibid. p. 170. 

« A.iy.F. p. 169. • Ibid. p. 170. 


At sowing their winter com the old Prussians used to 
kill a goat, consume its flesh with many superstitious cere- 
monies, and hang the skin on a high pole near an oak and 
a large stone. Here it remained till harvest, when a great 
bunch of corn and herbs was fastened to the pole above the 
goat-skin. Then, after a prayer had been offered by a peasant 
who acted as priest ( Wetdulut\ the young folks joined hands 
and danced round the oak and the pole. Afterwards they 
scrambled for the bunch of corn, and the priest distributed 
the herbs with a sparing hand Then he placed the goat- 
skin on the large stone, sat down on it and preached to the 
people about the history of their forefathers and their old 
heathen customs and beliefs.^ The goat-skin thus suspended 
on the field from sowing time to harvest represents the corn- 
spirit superintending the growth of the com. 

Another form which the com-spirit often assumes is that 
of a bull, cow, or ox. When the wind sweeps over the com 
they say at Conitz, in West Prussia, "The Steer is mnning 
in the com ** ;* when the com is thick and strong in one 
spot, they say in some parts of East Prussia, " The Bull is 
lying in the com." When a harvester has overstrained and 
lamed himself, they say in the Graudenz district (West 
Pmssia), " The Bull pushed him " ; in Lothringen they say, 
** He has the Bull." The meaning of both expressions is 
that he has unwittingly lighted upon the di\nne com-spirit, 
who has punished the profane intmder with lameness.' So 
near Chamb^ry when a reaper wounds himself with his 
sickle, it is said that he has " the wound of the Ox."* In 
the district of Bunzlau the last sheaf is sometimes made into 
the shape of a horned ox, stuffed with tow and wrapt in 
corn-ears. This figure is called the Old Man {der Alte), 
In some parts of Bohemia the last sheaf is made up in 
human form and called the Buffalo-bull.^ These cases show 
a confusion of the human with the animal shape of the corn- 
spirit. The confusion is like that of killing a wether under 
the name of a wolf.' In the Canton of Thurgau, Switzer- 

* Praetorius, Deliciae Pmssicae^ p. 23 sq. ; B,K, p. 394 sq, 
« M,F, p. 58. » Ibid, 

* IbidL p. 62. * IbitL p. 59. 

^ Above, p. 265 sq. 

278 THE CORN-SPIRIT chai'. 


land, the last sheaf, if it is a large one, is called the Cow. ^ 
All over Swabia the last bundle of corn on the field is called V 
the Cow ; the man who cuts the last ears " has the Cow," 
and is himself called Cow or Barley-cow or Oats-cow, accord- ' 
ing to the crop ; at the harvest-supper he gets a nosegay of 
flowers and corn-ears and a more liberal allowance of drink 
than the rest. But he is teased and laughed at ; so no one 
likes to be the Cow.* The Cow was sometimes represented 
by the figure of a woman made out of ears of com and com- \ 
flowers. It was carried to the farmhouse by the man who 
had cut the last handful of com. The children ran after 
him and the neighbours turned out to laugh at him, till the 
farmer took the Cow from him.' Here again the confusion 
between the human and the animal form of the corn-spirit is 
apparent In various parts of Switzerland the reaper who 
cuts the last ears of com is called Wheat-cow, Com -cow. 
Oats-cow, or Com-steer, and is the butt of many a joke.* 
In some parts of East Prussia, when a few ears of com have 
been left standing by inadvertence on the last swath, the 
foremost reaper seizes them and cries, " Bull ! Bull ! "* On 
the other hand, in the district of Rosenheim, Upper Bavaria, 
when a farmer is later of getting in his harvest than his 
neighbours, they set up on his land a Straw-bull, as it is 
called. This is a gigantic figure of a bull made of stubble 
on a framework of wood and adorned with flowers and 
leaves. Attached to it is a label on which are scrawled 
doggerel verses in ridicule of the man on whose land the 
Straw-bull is set up.* 

Again, the corn -spirit in the form of a bull or ox is 
killed on the harvest-field at the close of the reaping. At 
Pouilly, near Dijon, when the last ears of com are about to 
be cut, an ox adorned with ribbons, flowers, and ears of corn 
is led all round the field, followed by the whole troop of 
reapers dancing. Then a man disguised as the Devil cuts 
the last ears of com and immediately slaughters the ox. 

» M.F. p. 59. » Panzer, op, ciL ii. p. 233, § 427 ; 

* E. Meier, Deutsche Sagen^ Sitten M,F. p. 59. 
und Gehrduche aus SeAwaSen, p. 440 ^ a/ z* 

^^.. §§151, 152. 153 ; Pander. ^«>«^ , ,[:[' ^ ^^ '^' 

stir deuischen Mytkohgie^ ii. p. 234, '^'^ P* S®* 

§ 428 ; M.F. p. 59. • Ibid, p. 58 sq. 


Part of the flesh of the animal is eaten at the harvest- 
supper ; part is pickled and kept till the first day of sowing 
in spring. At Pont k Mousson and elsewhere on the evening 
of the last day of reaping, a calf adorned with flowers and 
ears of corn is led thrice round the farmyard, being allured 
by a bait or driven by men with sticks, or conducted by the 
farmer's wife with a rope. The calf chosen for this ceremony 
is the calf which was born first on the farm in the spring of 
the year. It is followed by all the reapers with their tools. 
Then it is allowed to run free ; the reapers chase it, and 
whoever catches it is called King of the Calf. Lastly, it is 
solemnly killed ; at Lun^ville the man who acts as butcher 
is the Jewish merchant of the village.* 

Sometimes again the corn-spirit hides himself amongst 
the cut com in the bam to reappear in bull or cow form at 
threshing. Thus at Wurmlingen, in Thiiringen, the man who 
gives the last stroke at threshing is called the Cow, or rather 
the Barley-cow, Oats-cow, Peas-cow, or the like, according 
to the crop. He is entirely enveloped in straw ; his head 
is surmounted by sticks in imitation of homs, and two lads 
lead him by ropes to the well to drink. On the way thither 
he must low like a cow, and for a long time afterwards he 
goes by the name of the Cow.* At Obermedlingen, in 
Swabia, when the threshing draws near an end, each man 
is careful to avoid giving the last stroke. He who does give 
it ''gets the Cow," which is a straw fig^ure dressed in an 
old ragged petticoat, hood, and stockings. It is tied on his 
back with a straw-rope ; his face is blackened, and being tied 
with straw -ropes to a wheelbarrow he is wheeled round 
the village.' Here, again, we meet with that confusion 
between the human and animal shape of the com -spirit 
which we have noted in other customs. In Canton Schaff"- 
hausen the man who threshes the last com is called the 
Cow ; in Canton Thui^u, the Com-bull ; in Canton Zurich, 
the Thresher-cow. In the last -mentioned district he is 
wrapt in straw and bound to one of the trees in the orchard.^ 

* it/./l p. 60. ' Panxer, Beitra^ ztir deutschen 

^ E. Meier, Deutsche Sagen, Sitten Mythohgie^ ii. p. 233, § 427. 

und Cehrduche aus Stkwaben^ p. 444 

jf., S 162 ; M,F. p. 61. * J/./*, p. 61 sq. 




At Arad in Hungary the man who gives the last stroke at 
threshing is enveloped in straw and a cow's hide with the 
horns attached to it.^ At Pessnitz, in the district of Dresden, 
the man who gives the last stroke with the flail is called 
Bull. He must make a straw-man and set it up before a 
neighbour's window.^ Here, apparently, as in so many 
cases, the corn-spirit is passed on to a neighbour who has 
not finished threshing. So at Herbrechtingen, in Thiiringen, 
the effigy of a ragged old woman is flung into the bam of 
the farmer who is last with his threshing. The man who 
throws it in cries, "There is the Cow for you." If the 
threshers catch him they detain him over night and punish 
him by keeping him from the harvest -supper.' In these 
latter customs the confusion between the human and the 
animal shape of the corn-spirit meets us again. Further, 
the corn -spirit in bull form is sometimes believed to be 
killed at threshing. At Auxerre in threshing the last 
bundle of com they call out twelve times, " We are killing 
the Bull." In the neighbourhood of Bordeaux, where a 
butcher kills an ox on the field immediately after the close 
of the reaping, it is said of the man who gives the last 
stroke at threshing that "he has killed the Bull."* At 
Chamb^ry the last sheaf is called the sheaf of the Young 
Ox and a race takes place to it, in which all the reapers 
join. When the last stroke is given at threshing they 
say that "the Ox is killed"; and immediately thereupon 
a real ox is slaughtered by the reaper who cut the last 
com. The flesh of the ox is eaten by the threshers at 

We have seen that sometimes the young com -spirit, 
whose task it is to quicken the corn of the coming year, is 
believed to be born as a Com -baby on the harvest -field.' 
Similarly in Berry the young corn -spirit is sometimes 
supposed to be born on the field in calf form. For when a 
binder has not rope enough to bind all the com in sheaves, 
he puts aside the wheat that remains over and imitates the 
lowing of a cow. The meaning is that " the sheaf has given 

' M.F, p. 62. 

* Ibid. p. 62. 

' £. Meier, op. cit. p. 445 sq.^ § 163. 

* M,F, p. 60. 

* Ibid. p. 62. 

* Above, p. 182 iq. 



birth to a calf."^ In Puy-de-D6me when a binder cannot 
keep up with the reaper whom he or she follows, they say 
" He or she is giving birth to the Calf."" In some parts of 
Prussia, in similar circumstances, they call out to the woman, 
" The Bull is coming," and imitate the bellowing of a buU.^ 
In these cases the woman is conceived as the Corn-cow or 
old corn-spirit, while the supposed calf is the Corn-calf or 
young corn-spirit. In some parts of Austria a mythical calf 
{Muhkdlbchen) is believed to be seen amongst the sprouting 
corn in spring and to push the children ; when the com waves 
in the wind they say, " The Calf is going about" Clearly, as 
Mannhardt observes, this calf of the spring-time is the same 
animal which is afterwards believed to be killed at reaping.* 
Sometimes the com -spirit appears in the shape of a 
horse or mare. Between Kalw and Stuttgart, when the com 
bends before the wind, they say, " There runs the Horse."* 
In Hertfordshire, at the end of the reaping, there is or used to 
be observed a ceremony called " crying the Mare." The last 
blades of corn left standing on the field are tied together 
and called the Mare. The reapers stand at a distance and 
throw their sickles at it ; he who cuts it through " has the 
prize, with acclamations and good cheer." After it is cut 
the reapers cry thrice with a loud voice, " I have her ! " 
Others answer thrice, " What have you ? " — " A Mare ! a 
Mare ! a Mare ! " — " Whose is she ? " is next asked thrice. 
"A. B.'s," naming the owner thrice. "Whither will you 
send her ? " — " To C. D.," naming some neighbour who has 
not ail his com reaped.* In this custom the corn-spirit in 
the form of a mare is passed on from a farm where the com 
is all cut to another farm where it is still standing, and 
where therefore the corn-spirit may be supposed naturally 
to take refuge. In Shropshire the custom is similar. 
" Crying, calling, or shouting the mare is a ceremony per- 
formed by the men of that farm which is the first in any 
parish or district to finish the harvest. The objfect of it is 
to make known their own prowess, and to taunt the laggards 

' Laisnel de U Salle, Crpyances €t * Ibid, p. 63. 

Uzendes du Centre de la Front e, u. k tl'j -^- 

,^j * ^f^td, p. 167. 

* Af,F, p. 62 : ** II fait le veait,*^ • Bizxid, Popular Antiquities^ ii. 24, 

3 Ibid. Bohn*s ed. 

282 THE CORN-SPIRIT chap. 

by a pretended offer of the * owd mar* ' [old mare] to help 
out their *chem* [team]. All the men assemble (the wooden 
harvest-bottle being of course one of the company) in the 
stackyard, or, better, on the highest ground on the farm, and 
there shout the following dialogue, preceding it by a grand 
* Hip, hip, hip, hurrah ! ' 

« • I 'ave 'er, I 'ave 'er, I 'ave 'er ! ' 

" * Whad 'ast thee, whad 'ast thee, whad 'ast thee ? ' 

" * A mar* ! a mar* ! a mar* ! ' y 

" * Whose is 'er, whose is 'er, whose is 'er ? ' 

** Maister A.'s, Maister A.'s, Maister A.'s ! * (naming the 
farmer whose harvest is finished). 

"'W'eer sha't the' send 'er? w'eer sha't the' send 'er? 
w'eer sha't the' send 'er ? ' 

"*To Maister B.'s, to Maister B.'s, to Maister B.'s' 
(naming one whose harvest is not finished)." 

The farmer who finishes his harvest last, and who 
therefore cannot send the Mare to any one else, is said 
*f to keep her all winter." The mocking offer of the Mare 
was sometimes responded to by a mocking acceptance of 
her help. Thus an old man told an inquirer, " While we 
wun at supper, a mon cumm'd wi' a autar [halter] to fatch 
her away." But at one place (Longnor, near Leebotwood), 
down to about 1850, the Mare used really to be sent. 
"The head man of the farmer who had finished harvest 
first was mounted on the best horse of the team — the 
leader — both horse and man being adorned with ribbons, 
streamers, etc. Thus arrayed, a boy on foot led the pair in 
triumph to the neighbouring farmhouses. Sometimes the 
man who took the * mare ' received, as well as plenty of 
harvest-ale, some rather rough, though good-humoured, treat- 
ment, coming back minus his decorations, and so on."^ In 
the neighbourhood of Lille the idea of the corn-spirit in horse 
form is clearly preserved. When a harvester grows weary 
at his work, it is said, " He has the fatigue of the Horse." 
The first sheaf, called the " Cross of the Horse," is placed on 
a cross of boxwood in the bam, and the youngest horse on 
the farm must tread on it. The reapers dance round the 
last blades of corn, crying, " See the remains of the Horse." 

' Buroe and Jackson, Shropshire Folk-lore^ p. 373 $q. 




The sheaf made out of these last blades is given to the 
youngest horse of the parish {commune) to eat. This 
youngest horse of the parish clearly represents, as Mannhardt 
says, the corn -spirit of the following year, the Corn -foal, 
which absorbs the spirit of the old Corn-horse by eating the 
last corn cut; for, as usual, the old corn -spirit takes his 
final refuge in the last sheaf. The thresher of the last 
sheaf is said to " beat the Horse."* Again, a trace of the 
horse -shaped com -spirit is reported from Berry. The 
harvesters there are accustomed to take a noon-day sleep 
in the field. This is called " seeing the Horse." The leader 
or " King " of the harvesters gives the signal for going to 
sleep. If he delays giving the signal, one of the harvesters 
will begin to neigh like a horse, the rest imitate him, and 
then they all go " to see the Horse."* 

In some parts of Normandy there are traces of a belief 
that the spirit of the com may assume the form of a quail. 
When the reapers have come to the last ears of the last rig 
they surround them for the purpose of catching the quail 
which is supposed to have taken refuge there. They run 
round about the com crying, "Mind the Quail!" and pretend 
to grab at the bird amid shouts and laughter.* In Poitou, on 
the other hand, the spirit of the com appears to be conceived 
in the shape of a fox. When the com is being reaped in a 
district, all the reapers strive to finish as quickly as possible, 
in order that they may send " the fox " to the fields of a 
farmer who has not yet got in his harvest The man who 
cuts the last handful of standing corn is said to " have the 
Fox." This last handful is carried to the farmer's house and 
occupies a place on the table during the harvest-supper ; and 
it is customary to drench it with water. After that it is set 
up on the chimney-piece and remains there the whole year.* 

* M,F, p. 167. We may compare 
the Scotch custom of giving the last 
sheaf to a horse or mare to eat. See 
above, pp. 177, 185 j^., 187. 

' Laisnel de la Salle, Croyatues et 
Ugendes du Centre de la Frame, ii. 1 33 ; 
M.F. p. 167 sq, I am informed by 
Mrs. Hoggan, M.D., of 37 Fitzroy 
Square, London, that in South Wales 
the man who cut the *< Neck " used to 

be roughly handled if he was caught. 
One way of punishing him was to shoe 
him, that is, to beat the soles of his 
feet severely with sods. Perhaps he 
was thus treated as representing the 
corn-spirit in the form of a horse. 

' J. Lecoeur, Esquisses du Socage 
Normandy ii. 240. 

* L. Pineau, Folk-lore du Poitou 
(Pftris, 1892), p. 500 sq. 




The last animal embodiment of the corn-spirit which we 
shall notice is the pig (boar or sow). In Thiiringen, when 
the wind sets the young corn in motion, they sometimes say, 
"The Boar is rushing through the corn."^ Amongst the 
Esthonians of the island of Qesel the last sheaf is called the 
Rye-boar, and the man who gets it is saluted with a cry of, 
"You have the Rye -boar on your back!" In reply he 
strikes up a song, in wliich he prays for plenty.* At 
Kohlerwinkel, near Augsburg, at the close of the harvest, 
the last bunch of standing com is cut down, stalk by stalk, 
by all the reapers in turn. He who cuts the last stalk " gets 
the Sow," and is laughed at* In other Swabian villages 
also the man who cuts the last corn " has the Sow," or " has 
the Rye-sow."* In the Traunstein district. Upper Bavaria, 
the man who cuts the last handful of rye or wheat " has the 
Sdw," and is called Sow-driver.* At Friedingen, in Swabia, 
the thresher who gives the last stroke is called Sow — 
Barley-sow, Com -sow, or the like, according to the crop. 
At Onstmettingen the man who gives the last stroke at 
threshing " has the Sow " ; he is often bound up in a sheaf 
and dragged by a rope along the ground.* And, generally, 
in Swabia the man who gives the last stroke with the flail is 
called Sow. He may, however, rid himself of this invidious 
distinction by passing on to a neighbour the straw-rope, 
which is the badge of his position as Sow. So he goes to a 
house and throws the straw-rope into it, crying, " There, I 
bring you the Sow." All the inmates give chase ; and if 
they catch him they beat him, shut him up for several hours 
in the pig- sty, and oblige him to take the "Sow" away 
againJ In various parts of Upper Bavaria the man who 
gives the last stroke at threshing must " carry the Pig " — that 
is, either a straw effigy of a pig or merely a bundle of straw- 


1 Witzschel, Sagen, Siiten ttnd 
Gebrdtiche aus Thiiringin^ p. 213, § 4. 
So at Klepzig, in Anhalt (Ztiischrift 
des Vereinsfiir Volkskunde^ vii. (1 897), 
p. 150). 

• Holzmayer, "Osiliana," Verhand- 
lungen dtr geUhrien Estniscken Gesell- 
schaft zu Dorpat^ viL Hcfl 2, p. 107 ; 
M,F, p. 187. 

' Birlinger, Aus Schwahen^ ii. 328. 

^ Panzer, Beitrag tur deutschen 
Mythologie, ii. pp. 223, 224, §§ 417, 


* M.F. p. 112. 

• E. Meier, Deutsche Sagen^ Sitteti 
und GehriiMche aus Stkwaben, P* 445f 
§ 162. 

7 Birlinger, Volksthumliches cms 
Sehwaben, ii. p. 425, § 379. 

Ill AS A PIG 285 

ropes. This he carries to a neighbouring farm where the 
threshing is not finished, and throws it into the barn. If the 
threshers catch him they handle him roughly, beating him, 
blackening or dirtying his face, throwing him into filth, 
binding the Sow on his back, and so on ; if the bearer of 
the Sow is a woman they cut off her hair. At the harvest 
supper or dinner the man who " carried the Pig " gets one 
or more dumplings made in the form of pigs ; sometimes he 
gets a large dumpling and a number of small ones, all in 
pig form, the large one being called the sow and the small 
ones the sucking-pigs. Sometimes he has the right to be 
the first to put his hand into the dish and take out as many 
small dumplings (" sucking-pigs *') as he can, while the other 
threshers strike at his hand with spoons or sticks. When 
the dumplings are served up by the maid-servant, all the 
people at table cry, " Siiz, siiz, siiz ! " being the cry used in 
calling pigs. Sometimes after dinner the man who " carried 
the Pig" has his face blackened, and is set on a cart and 
drawn round the village by his fellows, followed by a crowd 
crying, " Siiz, siiz, siiz ! ** as if they were calling swine. 
Sometimes, after being wheeled round the village, he is 
flung on the dunghill.^ 

Again, the corn-spirit in the form of a pig plays his part 
at sowing -time as well as at harvest. At Neuautz, in 
Courland, when barley is sown for the first time in the year, 
the farmer's wife boils the chine of a pig along with the tail, 
and brings it to the sower on the field. He eats of it, but 
cuts ofT the tail and sticks it in the field ; it is believed that 
the ears of com will then grow as long as the tail.* Here 
the pig is the corn-spirit, whose fertilising power is some- 
times supposed to lie especially in his tail.' As a pig he is 
put in the ground at sowing-time, and as a pig he reappears 
amongst the ripe corn at harvest. For amongst the neigh- 
bouring Esthonians, as we have seen,* the last sheaf is called 
the Rye-boar. Somewhat similar customs are observed in 
Germany. In the Salza district, near Meiningen, a certain 
bone in the pig is called " the Jew on the winnowing-fan." 

* Pftnzer, Beitrag tur deutichen * M,F, p. 186/^. 

Mythologies li. pp. 221-224, §§ 409, ' Above, p. 260 j^., 263. 

410, 411, 412, 413, 414, 415, 418. « Above, p. 284. 

286 THE CORN'SPIRIT chap. 

The flesh of this bone is boiled on Shrove Tuesday, but the 
bone is put amongst the ashes which the neighbours exchange 
as presents on St. Peter's Day (the twenty-second of February), 
and then mix with the seed-corn.* In the whole of Hesse, 
Meiningen, etc., people eat pea-soup with dried pig-ribs on 
Ash Wednesday or Candlemas. The ribs are then collected 
and hung in the room till sowing-time, when they are inserted 
in the sown field or in the seed-bag amongst the flax seed. 
This is thought to be an infallible specific against earth-fleas « 

and moles, and to cause the flax to grow well and tall.' In 
many parts of White Russia people eat a roast lamb or 
sucking-pig at Easter, and then throw the bones backwards 
upon the fields, to preserve the corn from hail.' 

But the idea of the corn-spirit as embodied in pig form 
is nowhere more clearly expressed than in the Scandinavian 
custom of the Yule Boar. In Sweden and Denmark at 
Yule (Christmas) it is the custom to bake a loaf in the form 
of a boar-pig. This is called the Yule Boat*. The com of 
the last sheaf is often used to make it All through Yule 
the Yule Boar stands on the table. Often it is kept till the 
sowing-time in spring, when part of it is mixed with the 
seed-corn and part given to the ploughmen and plough- 
horses or plough-oxen to eat, in the expectation of a good 
harvest* In this custom the corn-spirit, immanent in the 
last sheaf, appears at midwinter in the form of a boar made 
from the corn of the last sheaf; and his quickening influence 
on the com is shown by mixing part of tiie Yule Boar with 
the seed-com, and giving part of it to the ploughman and 
his cattle to eat. Similarly we saw that the Corn -wolf 
makes his appearance at midwinter, the time when the year 
begins to verge towards spring.* We may conjecture that 
the Yule straw, which Swedish peasants turn to various 
superstitious uses, comes, in part at least, from the sheaf out 
of which the Yule Boar is made. The Yule straw is long 

> ALF, p. 187. * A, IV, F, p. 197 iq, ; Panzer, 

• M.F. p. 187 sq,\ WiUschel, Btitrag utr dtutschen MythohgU^ ii. 

Sagen, SittenundGebratuheatis Thiir- 491; Jamieson, Dictionary of the 

in^tn^ pp. 189, 218; W. Kolbe, Scottish Language^ s,v, "Maiden"; 

Hessische Volks- Sitten und Gebrauche Afzelius, Voikssagfn und Volkslieder 

(Marburj;, 1888), p. 35. cms Schwedens alterer und naterer 

^ M.F, p. 188 ; Kalston, Songs of Zeit, Ubersetzt von Unge witter, i. 9. 

the Russian People, p. 220. * Above, p. 266. 



J rye-Straw, a portion of which is always set apart for this 
season. It is strewn over the floor at Christmas, and the 

■ peasants attribute many virtues to it. For example, they 
think that some of it scattered on the ground will make a 

• barren field productive. Again, the peasant at Christmas 
I seats himself on a log ; and his eldest son or daughter, or the 

• mother herself, if the children are not old enough, places a 
i wisp of the Yule straw on his knee. From this he draws 

out single straws, and throws them, one by one, up to the 
ceiling ; and as many as lodge in the rafters, so many will 
be the sheaves of rye he will have to thresh at harvest^ 
Again, it is only the Yule straw which may be used in bind- 
ing the fruit-trees as a charm to fertilise them.* These uses 
of the Yule straw show that it is believed to possess fertilis- 
ing virtues analogous to those ascribed to the Yule Boar ; 
we may therefore fairly conjecture that the Yule straw is 
made from the same sheaf as the Yule Boar. Formerly a 
real boar was sacrificed at Christmas,* and apparently also 
a man in the character of the Yule Boar. This, at least, 
may perhaps be inferred from a Christmas custom still 
observed in Sweden. A man is wrapt up in a skin, and 
carries a wisp of straw in his mouth, so that the projecting 
straws look like the bristles of a boar. A knife is brought, 
and an old woman, with her face blackened, pretends to 
sacrifice him.* On Christmas Eve in some parts of the 
Esthonian island of Oesel they bake a long cake with the 
two ends turned up. It is called the Christmas Boar, and 
stands on the table till the morning of New Year's Day, 
when it is distributed among the cattle. In other parts of 
the island the Christmas Boar is not a cake but a little pig 
bom in March, which the housewife fattens secretly, often 
without the knowledge of the other members of the family. 
On Christmas Eve the little pig is secretly killed, then 
roasted in the oven, and set on the table standing on all 
fours, where it remains in this posture for several days. In 
other parts of the island, again, though the Christmas cake 

* L. Lloyd, Peasant Life in Sweden^ ' Jahn, Deuiseke Opfergebrauche^ p. 

pp. 169 /f., 182. On Qiristmas night 215. Cp. above, vol. i. p. 177. 
children sleep on a bed of the Yule ' Afzelios, op, cit, i. 31. 

stnw {ibid. p. 177). ^ Afzelius, op, at, i. 9 ; Lloyd, 

Peasant Life in Sweden, pp. 181, 185. 

288 THE YULE BOAR chap. 

has neither the name nor the shape of a boar, it is kept till 
the New Year, when half of it is divided among all the 
members and all the quadrupeds of the family. The other 
half of the cake is kept till sowing-time comes round, when 
it is similarly distributed in the morning among human 
beings and beasts.^ In other parts of Esthonia, again, the 
Christmas Boar, as it is called, is baked of the first rye cut 
at harvest ; it has a conical shape and a cross is impressed 
on it with a pigf s bone or a key, or three dints are made in 
it with a buckle or a piece of charcoal. It stands with a 
light beside it on the table all through the festal season. 
On New Year's Day and Epiphany, before sunrise, a little 
of the cake is crumbled with salt and given to the cattle^ The 
rest is kept till the day when the cattle are driven out to pasture 
for the first time in spring. It is then put in the herdsman's 
bag, and at evening is divided among the cattle to g^ard 
them from magic and harm. In some places the Christmas 
Boar is partaken of by farm-servants and cattle at the time 
of the barley sowing for the purpose of thereby producing a 
heavier crop.* 

So much for the animal embodiments of the corn-spirit 
as they are presented to us in the folk-customs of Northern 
Europe. These customs bring out clearly the sacramental 
character of the harvest-supper. The corn-spirit is conceived 
as embodied in an animal ; this divine animal is slain, and 
its flesh and blood are partaken of by the harvesters. Thus, 
the cock, the goose, the hare, the cat, the goat, and the ox 
are eaten sacramentally by the harvesters, and the pig 
is eaten sacramentally by ploughmen in spring.' Again, 
as a substitute for the real flesh of the divine being, bread 
or dumplings are made in his image and eaten sacramentally ; 
thus, pig-shaped dumplings are eaten by the harvesters, and 
loaves made in boar-shape (the Yule Boar) are eaten in ' 
spring by the ploughman and his cattle. 

The reader has probably remarked the complete parallel- 

^ Holzmayer, ''Osiliana," Verkand- und aussem Leben der Ehsien, pp. 
lungen dtr geUhrten Estniscken Gtsell- 344, 485. 

schaft SM Dorpat^ viL Heft 2 (1872), • Above, pp. 267, 268, 270, 271, 

p. 55 i^. 274, 279, 280, 285. In regard to the 

hare, the substitution of brandy for 

^ F. J. Wiedemann, Ausdem inneren hare*s blood is probably modern. 




ism between the conceptions of the corn-spirit in human 
and in animal form. The parallel may be here briefly 
resumed. When the corn waves in the wind it is said 
either that the Corn -mother or that the Corn-wolf, etc., 
is passing through the corn. Children are warned against 
straying in corn-fields either because the Corn-mother or 
because the Corn-wolf, etc., is there. In the last corn cut or 
the last sheaf threshed either the Corn-mother or the Corn- 
wolf, etc., is supposed to be present. The last sheaf is itself 
called either the Corn-mother or the Corn-wolf, etc, and is 
made up in the shape either of a woman or of a wolf, etc. 
The person who cuts, binds, or threshes the last sheaf is 
called either the Old Woman or the Wolf, etc., according to 
the name bestowed on the sheaf itself. As in some places a 
sheaf made in human form and called the Maiden, the 
Mother of the Maize, etc, is kept from one harvest to the 
next in order to secure a continuance of the corn-spirit's 
blessing ; so in some places the Harvest-cock and in others 
the flesh of the goat is kept for a similar purpose from one 
harvest to the next. As in some places the grain taken 
from the Corn-mother is mixed with the seed-corn in spring 
to make the crop abundant ; so in some places the feathers 
of the cock, and in Sweden the Yule Boar, are kept till spring 
and mixed with the seed-corn for a like purpose. As part of 
the Corn-mother or Maiden is given to the cattle at Christ- 
mas or to the horses at the first ploughing, so part of the 
Yule Boar is given to the ploughing horses or oxen in 
spring. Lastly, the death of the corn-spirit is represented by 
killing or pretending to kill either his human or his animal 
representative ; and the worshippers partake sacramentally 
either of the actual body and blood of the representative 
of the divinity, or of bread made in his likeness. 

Other animal forms assumed by the corn-spirit are the 
stag, roe, sheep, bear, ass, mouse, stork, swan, and kite.^ 
If it is asked why the corn-spirit should be thought to 
appear in the form of an animal and of so many diflerent 
animals, we may reply that to primitive man the simple 
appearance of an animal or bird among the corn is probably 
enough to suggest a mysterious link between the creature 

' DU KomdamoHtnt p. I. 


and the com ; and when we remember that in the old days, 
before fields were fenced in, all kinds of animals must have 
been free to roam over them, we need not wonder that the 
corn -spirit should have been identified even with large 
animals like the horse and cow, which nowadays could not, 
except by a rare accident, be found straying in an English 
corn-field. This explanation applies with peculiar force to 
the very common case in which the animal embodiment of 
the corn-spirit is believed to lurk in the last standing corn. 
For at harvest a number of wild animals, such as hares, 
rabbits, and partridges, are commonly driven by the progress 
of the reaping into the last patch of standing com, and 
make their escape from it as it is being cut down. So 
regularly does this happen that reapers and others often 
stand round the last patch of corn armed with sticks or 
guns, with which they kill the animals as they dart out of 
their last refuge among the stalks. Now, primitive man, to 
whom magical changes of shape seem perfectly credible, 
finds it most natural that the spirit of the com, driven from 
his home in the ripe grain, should make his escape in the 
form of the animal which is seen to rush out of the last 
patch of corn as it falls under the scythe of the reaper. 
Thus the identification of the corn-spirit with an animal 
is analogous to the identification of him with a passing 
stranger. As the sudden appearance of a stranger near the 
harvest-field or threshing-floor is, to the primitive mind, 
enough to identify him as the spirit of the com escaping 
from the cut or threshed corn, so the sudden appearance of 
an animal issuing from the cut corn is enough to identify 
it with the corn-spirit escaping from his ruined home. The 
two identifications are so analogous that they can hardly be 
dissociated in any attempt to explain them. Those who 
look to some other principle than the one here suggested 
for the explanation of the latter identification are bound to 
show that their theory covers the former identification 

But however we may explain it, the fact remains that 
in peasant folk-lore the corn-spirit is very commonly con- 
ceived and represented in animal form. May not this fact 
explain the relation in which certain animals stood to the 



ancient deities of vegetation, Dionysus, Demeter, Adonis, 
Attis, and Osiris ? 

To begin with Dionysus. We have seen that he was 
represented sometimes as a goat and sometimes as a bull. 
As a goat he can hardly be separated from the minor 
divinities, the Pans, Satyrs, and Silenuses, all of whom are 
closely associated with him and are represented more or 
less completely in the form of goats. Thus, Pan was 
regularly portrayed in sculpture and painting with the face 
and legs of a goat* The Satyrs were depicted with pointed 
goat-ears, and sometimes with sprouting horns and short 
tails.^ They were sometimes spoken off simply as goats ;• 
and in the drama their parts were played by men dressed in 
goat-skins/ Silenus is represented in art clad in a goat- 
skin.^ Further, the Fauns, the Italian counterpart of the 
Greek Pans and Satyrs, are described as being half goats, 
with goat-feet and goat-horns.* Ag^in, all these minor 
goat-formed divinities partake more or less clearly of the 
character of woodland deities. Thus, Pan was called by the 
Arcadians the Lord of the Wood.^ The Silenuses associated 
with the tree-nymphs.® The Fauns are expressly designated 
as woodland deities ; * and their character as such is still 
further brought out by their association, or even identifica- 
tion, with Silvanus and the Silvanuses, who, as their name 
of itself indicates, are spirits of the woods.*® Lastly, the 
association of the Satyrs with the Silenuses, Fauns, and 
Silvanuses,** proves that the Satyrs also were woodland 
deities. These goat-formed spirits of the woods have their 
counterparts in the folk-lore of Northern Europe. Thus, 
the Russian wood-spirits, called Ljeschie (from Ijes^ " wood ") 
are believed to appear partly in human shape, but with the 

^ Herodotus, iL 46. * Pliny, NM, xiL 3; Ovid, Aletam, 

* Preller, Griechisckg Mytkol^ie^ i. vi. 392 ; /V/., Fasti^ iiL 303, 309 ; 
600; A,W,F, p. 138. Gloss. Isid. Mart. Cap. ii. 167, cited 

5 AAV,F, p. 139. by Mannhardi, AAV,F. p. 113. 

« Pollux, iv. 118. w Pliny, N.H. xii. 3; Mariianus 

' AAV.F. p. 142 /f. Capclla, ii. 167; Augustine, Ctp, Dft\ 

* Ovid, /tfj/i, iL 361, iii. 312, v. " xv. 23; Aurelius Victor, On'go gentis 
10 1 ; id,t Heroides, iv. 49. Rotnanoi^ iv. 6. 

^ Macrobius, Sai, i. 22. 3. ^^ Servius on Virgil, Eel, vi. 14 ; 

* Homer, Hymn to Aphrodite^ 262 Ovid, Mttam. vi. 392 $q. ; Martianus 
sqq, Capella, ii. 167. 


horns, ears, and legs of goats. The Ljeschi can alter his 
stature at pleasure ; when he walks in the wood he is as tall 
as the trees ; when he walks in the meadows he is no higher 
than the grass. Some of the Ljeschie are spirits of the com 
as well as of the wood ; before harvest they are as tall as 
the corn-stalks, but after it they shrink to the height of 
the stubble.^ This brings out — what we have remarked 
before — the close connection between tree-spirits and corn- 
spirits, and shows how easily the former may melt into the 
latter. Similarly the Fauns, though wood-spirits, were be- 
lieved to foster the growth of the crops.* We have already 
seen how often the corn-spirit is represented in folk-custom 
as a goat.' On the whole, then, as Mannhardt argues,* the 
Pans, Satyrs, and Fauns appear to belong to a widely 
diffused class of wood-spirits conceived in goat-form. The 
fondness of goats for straying in woods and nibbling the 
bark of trees — to which it is well known that they are most 
destructive — is an obvious and perhaps sufficient reason why 
wood-spirits should so often be supposed to take the form 
of goats. The inconsistency of a god of vegetation subsist- \ 
ing upon the vegetation which he personifies is not one to j 
strike the primitive mind. Such inconsistencies arise when { 
the deity, ceasing to be immanent in the vegetation, comes 
to be regarded as its owner or lord ; for the idea of owning 
the vegetation naturally leads to that of subsisting on it 
We have already seen that the corn-spirit, originally con- 
ceived as immanent in the com, afterwards comes to be 
regarded as its owner, who lives on it and is reduced to 
poverty and want by being deprived of it* 

Thus the representation of wood-spirits in the form of 
goats appears to be both widespread and, to the primitive 
mind, natural. Therefore when we find, as we have done, 
that Dionysus — a tree-god — is sometimes represented in 
goat form,* we can hardly avoid concluding that this repre- 
sentation is simply a part of his proper character as a tree- 
god and is not to be explained by the fusion of two distinct 
and independent worships, in one of which he originally 

> B.K. p. 138 sq.\ AJV,F, p. 145. < A. W,F, ch. iu. 

' Scr\ius on Virgil, Georg, i. 10. * Above, p. 235 sqq, 

' Above, p. 271 sqq, • Above, p. 165 sq. 



appeared as a tree-god and in the other as a goat. If such 
a fusion took place in the case of Dionysus, it must equally 
have taken place in the case of the Pans and Satyrs of 
Greece, the Fauns of Italy, and the Ljeschie of Russia. 
That such a fusion of two wholly disconnected worships 
should have occurred once is possible ; that it should have 
occurred twice independently is improbable ; that it should 
have occurred thrice independently is so unlikely as to be 
practically incredible. 

Dionysus was also figured, as we have seen,^ in the shape 
of a bull. After what has gone before we are naturally led 
to expect that his bull form must have been only another 
expression for his character as a deity of vegetation, especially 
as the bull is a common embodiment of the corn-spirit in 
Northern Europe ; ^ and the close association of Dionysus 
with Demeter and Proserpine in the mysteries of Eleusis 
shows that he had at least strong agricultural affinities. 
The other possible explanation of the bull-shaped Dionysus 
would be that the conception of him as a bull was originally 
entirely distinct from the conception of him as a deity of 
vegetation, and that the fusion of the two conceptions was 
due to some such circumstance as the union of two tribes, 
one of which had previously worshipped a bull-god and the 
other a tree-god. This appears to be the view taken by 
Mr. Andrew Lang, who suggests that the bull-formed 
Dionysus ^ had either been developed out of, or had suc- 
ceeded to, the worship of a bull-totem." • Of course this is 
possible. But it is not yet certain that the Aryans ever had 
totemism. On the other hand, it is quite certain that many 
Aryan peoples have conceived deities of vegetation as 
embodied in animal forms. Therefore when we find 
amongst an Aryan people like the Greeks a deity of 
vegetation represented as an animal, the presumption must 
be in favour of explaining this by a principle which is 
certainly known to have influenced the Aryan race rather 
than by one which is not certainly known to have done so. 
In the present state of our knowledge, therefore, it is safer 
to regard the bull form of Dionysus as being, like his goat 

^ Above, p. 164 sq, • Above, p. 277 sqq. 

* A. Lang, Myth^ Ritual ^ and Religion^ it 252. 

294 THE BOUPHONIA chap. 

form, an expression of his proper character as a deity of 

The probability of this view will be somewhat increased f 
if it can be shown that in other rites than those of Dionysus i 
the ancients slew an ox as a representative of the spirit of ? 
vegetation. This they appear to have done in the Athenian 
sacrifice known as " the murder of the ox " {boupkonid). It 
took place about the end of June or beginning of July, that 
is, about the time when the threshing is nearly over in > 
Attica. According to tradition the sacrifice was instituted 
to procure a cessation of drought and dearth which had i 
afflicted the land. The ritual was as follows. Barley mixed [ 
with wheat, or cakes made of them, were laid upon the bronze | 
altar of Zeus Polieus on the Acropolis. Oxen were driven 
round the altar, and the ox which went up to the altar and \ 
ate the offering on it was sacrificed. The axe and knife | 
with which the beast was slain had been previously wetted 
with water brought by maidens called "water-carriers." The 
weapons were then sharpened and handed to the butchers, 
one of whom felled the ox with the axe and another cut its 
throat with the knife. As soon as he had felled the ox, the 
former threw the axe from him and fled ; and the man who 
cut the beast's throat apparently imitated his example. 
Meantime the ox was skinned and all present partook of 
its flesh. Then the hide was stuffed with straw and sewed 
up ; next the stuffed animal was set on its feet and yoked 
to a plough as if it were ploughing. A trial then took place 
in an ancient law-court presided over by the King (as he 
was called) to determine who had murdered the ox. The 
maidens who had brought the water accused the men who 
had sharpened the axe and knife ; the men who had sharp- 
ened the axe and knife blamed the men who had handed 
these implements to the butchers ; the men who had handed 
the implements to the butchers blamed the butchers ; and the 
butchers laid the blame on the axe and knife, which were 
accordingly found guilty, condemned and cast into the sea.^ 

^ Pausanias, i. 24. 4 ; iV/., i. 28. xo ; Magfium^ s.v, /Soi^^oria ; Suidas, s.v. 

Porphyry, De abstinentia^ ii. 29 sq, ; 8ai;Xc»v ; Bekker's Atucdota Crtuca, 

Aelian, Var, Hist. viii. 3; Schol. on p. 238, /.r^ AarctXio. The date of the 

Aristophanes, Pecuty 419, and Clouds^ sacrifice (14th Skirophorion) is given 

985 ; Hesychius, Suidas, and Etymol, by the Schol. on Aristophanes and 

Ill . THE BO UP HON I A 293 

The name of this sacrifice, — " the murder of the ox," ^ — 
the pains taken by each person who had a hand in the 
slaughter to lay the blame on some one else, together with 
the formal trial and, punishment of the axe or knife or both, 
prove that the ox was here regarded not merely as a victim 
offered to a god, but as itself a sacred creature, the slaughter 
of which was sacrilege or murder. This is borne out by a 
statement of Varro that to kill an ox was formerly a capital 
crime in Attica.* The mode of selecting the victim suggests 
that the ox which tasted the com was viewed as the corn- 
deity taking possession of his own. This interpretation is 
supported by the following custom. In Beauce, in the district 
of Orleans, on the twenty-fourth or twenty-fifth of April they 
make a straw-man called " the great mondardr For they say 
that the old mandard is now dead and it is necessary to make 
a new one. The straw-man is carried in solemn procession 
up and down the village and at last is placed upon the 
oldest apple-tree. There he remains till the apples are 
gathered, when he is taken down and thrown into the water, 
or he is burned and his ashes cast into water. But the 
person who plucks the first fruit from the tree succeeds to 
the title of " the great mandard^ • Here the straw figure, 
called " the great mondard " and placed on the apple-tree in 
spring, represents the spirit of the tree, who, dead in winter, 
revives when the apple-blossoms appear on the boughs. 
Thus the person who plucks the first fruit from the tree 
and thereby receives the name of "the great mondard'* 
must be regarded as a representative of the tree-spirit. 
Primitive peoples are usually reluctant to taste the annual 

the Etym, Magn, ; and this date 7) presided at the trial of all lifeless 
corresponds, according to Mannhardt objects, is mentioned by Aristotle (C^ir- 
{M.F, p. 68), with the close of the stitution of Athats^ 57) and Pollux 
threshing in Attica. No writer men- (viii. 90, cp. viii. 120). 
tions the trial of both the axe and the ^ llie real import of the name 
knife. Pausanias speaks of the trial boupkonia was first perceived by W. 
of the axe, Porphyry and Aelian of Robertson Smith. See his Religion of 
the trial of the knife. But from Por- ike Semites} p. 304 sqq. 
phyry's description it is clear that the ' Varro, De re rustica^ ii. 5. 4. 
slaughter was carried out by two men, Cp. Columella, De re rttstica, vi. praef. 
one wielding sm axe and the other a § 7. Perhaps, however, Varro's state- 
knife, and that the former laid the ment may be merely an inference 
blame on the latter. Perhaps the knife drawn from the ritual of the bouphonia 
alone was condemned. That the and the legend told to explain it. 
King (as to whom see above, vol. i. p. ' W. Mannhardt, B,K. p. 409. 


1 r 




first-fruits of any crop, until some ceremony has been per- 
formed which makes it safe and pious for them to do so. 
The reason of this reluctance appears to be a belief that the 
first-fruits either belong to or actually contain a divinity. ; 
Therefore when a man or animal is seen boldly to appro- 
priate the sacred first-fruits, he or it is naturally regarded 
as the divinity himself in human or animal form taking 
possession of his own. The time of the Athenian sacrifice, 
which fell about the close of the threshing, suggests that the \ 

wheat and barley laid upon the altar were a harvest offer- 
ing ; and the sacramental character of the subsequent repast | 
— all partaking of the flesh of the divine animal — would 
make it parallel to the harvest-suppers of modern Europe, 
in which, as we have seen, the flesh of the animal who stands 
for the corn-spirit is eaten by the harvesters. Again, the 
tradition that the sacrifice was instituted in order to put an 
end to drought and famine is in favour of taking it as a 
harvest festival. The resurrection of the corn-spirit, enacted 
by setting up the stuffed ox and yoking it to the plough, 
may be compared with the resurrection of the tree-spirit in 
the person of his representative, the Wild Man.^ 

The ox appears as a representative of the corn-spirit in 
other parts of the world. At Great Bassam, in Guinea, two 
oxen are slain annually to procure a good harvest. If the 
sacrifice is to be effectual, it is necessary that the oxen 
should weep. So all the women of the village sit in front 
of the beasts, chanting, " The ox will weep ; yes, he will 
weep ! " From time to time one of the women walks round 
the beasts, throwing manioc meal or palm, wine upon them, 
especially into their eyes. When tears roll down from the 
eyes of the oxen, the people dance, singling, " The ox weeps! 
the ox weeps ! " Then two men seize the tails of the beasts 
and cut them off" at one blow. It is believed that a great 
misfortune will happen in the course of the year if the tails 
are not severed at one blow. The oxen are afterwards 
killed, and their flesh is eaten by the chiefs.* Here the 
tears of the oxen, like those of the human victims amongst 
the Khonds, are probably a rain-charm. We have already 

^ See above, p. 62. in das Innere von West-Afrika^ pp. 

' Hecqoard, Rtist an die Kiiste und 41-43. 

Ill BY AN ox IN CHINA 297 

seen that the virtue of the corn-spirit, embodied in animal 
form, is sometimes supposed to reside in the tail, and that 
the last handful of corn is sometimes conceived as the tail 
of the corn-spirit.^ Still more clearly does the ox appear as 
a personification of the corn-spirit in a ceremony which is 
observed in all the provinces and districts of China to 
welcome the approach of spring. On the first day of 
spring the governor or prefect of the city goes in procession 
to the east gate of the city, and sacrifices to the Divine 
Husbandman, who is represented with a bull's head on the 
body of a man. A large effigy of an ox, cow, or buffalo has 
been prepared for the occasion, and stands outside of the 
east gate, with agricultural implements beside it. The 
figure is made of differently-coloured pieces of paper pasted 
on a framework either by a blind man or according to the 
directions of a necromancer. The colours of the paper 
prognosticate the character of the coming year ; if red 
prevails, there will be many fires ; if white, there will be 
floods and rain ; and so with the other colours. The 
mandarins walk slowly round the ox, beating it severely at 
each step with rods of various hues. It is filled with five 
kinds of grain, which pour forth when the effigy is broken 
by the blows of the rods. The paper fragments are then 
set on fire, and a scramble takes place for the burning 
fragments, as the people believe that whoever gets one of 
them is sure to be fortunate throughout the year. A live 
buffalo is next killed, and its flesh is divided among the 
mandarins. According to one account, the effigy of the ox 
is made of clay, and, after being beaten by the governor, is 
stoned by the people till they break it in pieces, "from 
which they expect an abundant year." * But the ceremony 
varies somewhat in the different provinces. According to 
another account the effigy of the cow, made of earthenware, 
with gilded horns, is borne in procession, and is of such 
colossal dimensions that forty or fifty men can hardly carry 
it. Behind this monstrous cow walks a boy with one foot 
shod and the other bare, personifying the Genius of Industry. 

* Above, pp. 260 J^., 263. 203 sq, ; Doolittle, So<i(d Life of the 

Chinese^ p. 375 /^.f cd. Paxton Hood; 
^ China Keviciv^ i. 62, 154, 162, Gray, China/\\, i\^ $q. 




He beats the effigy with a rod, as if to drive it forward. A 
great many little clay cows are afterwards taken out of the 
large one and distributed among the people. Both the big 
cow and the little ones are then broken in pieces, and the 
people take the sherds home with them in order to grind 
them to powder and strew the powder on their fields, for 
they think thus to secure a plentiful harvest.^ In one form 
of this Chinese custom the corn-spirit appears to be plainly 
represented by the corn-filled ox, whose fragments may 
therefore be supposed to bring fertility with them. We 
may compare the Silesian custom of burning the effigy of 
Death, scrambling for the burning fragments, and burying 
them in the fields to secure a good crop, and the Florentine 
custom of sawing the Old Woman and scrambling for the 
dried fruits with which she was filled.* Both these customs, 
like their Chinese counterpart, are observed in spring. 

On the whole, then, we may perhaps conclude that both 
as a goat and as a bull Dionysus was essentially a god of 
vegetation. The Chinese and European customs just re- 
ferred to may perhaps shed light on the custom of rending 
a live bull or goat at the rites of Dionysus. The animal 
was torn in fragments, as the Khond victim was cut in 
pieces, in order that the worshippers might each secure a 
portion of the life-giving and fertilising influence of the god. 
The flesh was eaten raw as a sacrament, and we may con- 


1 Ostasiatischer Lloyd ^ March 14, 
1890, quoted by J. D. K Schmeltz, 
**Das Pflugfest in China," Inter- 
ncUionalts Archiv fiir EthtiographU^ 
xi. (1898), p. 79. With this account 
the one given by S. W. Williams ( The 
Middle Kingdom (New York and 
London, 184S), ii. 109) substantially 
agrees. In many districts, according 
to the Ostasiatischer Lloyd, the Genius 
of Spring u represented at this festival 
by a boy of blameless character, clad 
in green. The custom of going with 
one foot bare and the other shod has 
some mystic meaning which I am 
unable to explain. Persons who were 
being purified by means of the skin of 
the ram sacrificed to Zeus (Atds ku)Bi») 
seem to have had one foot bare and 
the other shod. See Gazette Arch^o* 

logique, ix. (1884), pi. 44, 45, 46; 
Hesychius, s.v, Ai^ jct^ior ; Polenio, 
ed. Preller, p. 140 sqq, Pelias was 
warned by an oracle that his death 
would be brought about by a man 
with one shoe, and the oracle was 
fulfilled by Jason. See Pindar, Pyth, 

i^* 75 (135) ^'ith ^c scholium; 
Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, i. 
5 sqq. The Plataeans who escaped 
from their besieged city had only the 
left foot shod (Thuc>'dides, iii. 22). 
The historian who records this last 
circumstance thought it was a measure 
of precaution to prevent the men's 
feet from slipping in the mud ; but 
more probably it was an old super- 

* Above, pp. 87, 95. 





jecture that some of it was taken home to be buried in the 
fields, or otherwise employed so as to convey to the fruits of 
the earth the quickening influence of the god of vegetation. 
The resurrection of Dionysus, related in his myth, may have 
been enacted in his rites by stuffing and setting up the slain 
ox, as was done at the Athenian baup/ionia. 

Passing next to the corn-goddess Demeter, and remem- 
bering that in European folk-lore the pig is a common 
embodiment of the corn-spirit,^ we may now ask whether 
the pig, which was so closely associated with Demeter, may 
not have been originally the goddess herself in animal form ? 
The pig was sacred to her;^ in art she was portrayed 
carrying or accompanied by a pig;' and the pig was 
regularly sacrificed in her mysteries, the reason assigned 
being that the pig injures the corn and is therefore an 
enemy of the goddess.^ But after an animal has been 
conceived as a god, or a god as an animal, it sometimes 
happens, as we have seen, that the god sloughs off his 
animal form and becomes purely anthropomorphic ; and 
that then the animal, which at first had been slain in the 
character of the god, comes to be viewed as a victim offered 
to the god on the ground of its hostility to the deity ; in 
short, that the god is sacrificed to himself on the ground 
that he is his own enemy. This happened to Dionysus, and 
it may have happened to Demeter also. And in fact the 
rites of one of her festivals, the Thesmophoria, bear out the 
view that originally the pig was an embodiment of the 
corn-goddess herself, either Demeter or her daughter and 
double Proserpine. The Thesmophoria was an autumn 
festival, celebrated by women alone in October,* and appears 
to have represented with mourning rites the descent of 
Proserpine (or Demeter) • into the lower world, and with 

* See above, p. 284 sqg, 

' Schol. on Aristophiines, A chant, 


' Overbeck, Griechische Kunst- 

mytkohgie^ ii. 493 ; Miiller-Wieseler, 
Dtnkmdltr d, alt, Kunst^ ii. pi. viii. 94. 

* Hyginus, FtdK 277 ; Cornutus, 
Dt nai, deer. 28 ; Macrobius, Sat, i. 1 2. 
23 ; Schol. on Aristophanes, Acharn, 
747 ; lie/., on Frogi^ 338 ; iV/., on Peaces 

374 ; Servius on Virgil, Georg, iL 380 ; 
Aelian, Nat, Anim. x. 16. 

* For the authorities on the Thes- 
mophoria and a discussion of some 
doubtful points in the festival, I may 
be permitted to refer to my article 
** Thesmophoria" in the Encyclopaedia 
BHtamnica^ ninth ed. 

^ Photius, Lexicon^ s,v, ffnjrco, speaks 
of the accent oi Dernier from the lower 




joy her return from the dead.^ Hence the name Descent 
or Ascent variously applied to the first, and the name 
Kalligeneia (fair- born) applied to the third day of the 
festival. Now from an old scholium on Lucian ^ we learn 
some details about the mode of celebrating the Thes- 
mophoria, which shed important light on the part of the 
festival called the Descent or the Ascent. The scholiast 
tells us that it was customary at the Thesmophoria to throw 
pigs, cakes of dough, and branches of pine-trees into " the 
chasms of Demeter and Proserpine," which appear to have 
been sacred caverns or vaults." In these caverns or vaults 
there were said to be serpents, which guarded the caverns 
and consumed most of the flesh of the pigs and dough-cakes 
which were thrown in. Afterwards — apparently at the next 
annual festival * — the decayed remains of the pigs, the cakes, 
and the pine - branches were fetched by women called 
** drawers," who, after observing rules of ceremonial purity for 
three days, descended into the caverns, and, frightening 
away the serpents by clapping their hands, brought up the 
remains and placed them on the altar. Whoever got a 
piece of the decayed flesh and cakes, and sowed it with the 
seed-corn in his field, was believed to be sure of a good crop. 
To explain this rude and ancient rite the following 

world ; and Clement of Alexandria 
speaks of both Demeter and Proserpine 
as having been engulfed in the chasm 
{Proirept. ii. 17). The original equi- 
valence of Demeter and Proserpine 
must be borne steadily in mind. 

* Plutarch, /jiV^/C?x/n J, 69; Photius, 
Lexicon, s.v, rHftna. 

* E. Rohde, ** Unedirte Ludans- 
scholien, die attischen Thesmophorien 
und Haloen betreffend," Pheinisches 
Museunty N.F., xxv. (1870), p. 548. 
Two passages of classical writers 
(Clemens Alex. Protrtpi, ii. 17, and 
Pausanias, ix. 8. i) refer to the rites 
described by the scholiast on Lucian, 
and had been rightly interpreted by 
Lobeck {Aglaophamus, p. 827 sqq,), 

' The scholiast Fpeaks of them as 
megara and adyta. Megara (from a 
Phoenician word meaning "cavern," 
** subterranean chasm,** Movers, Die 

Pkoeniuer, L 220) were properly sub- 
terranean vaults or chasms sacred to 
the gods. See Hesychius, quoted by 
Movers, Lc, (the passage does not 
appear in M. Schmidt's minor edition 
of Hesychius) ; Porphyry, De antro 
nymph, 6 ; and my note on Pausanias, 
ii. 2. I. 

* We infer this from Pausanias, ix. 
8. I, though the passage is incomplete 
and apparently corrupt. For ev Aurdc^ri; 
Lobeck {Aglaopkamus, p. 829 sq, ) pro- 
posed to read dradvi^at or dvado^^. At 
the spring and autumn festivals of Isis 
at Tithorea geese and goats were thrown 
into the adyton and left there till the 
following festival, when the remains 
were removed and buried at a certain 
spot a little way from the temple. See 
Pausanias, x. 32. 14. This analogy 
supports the view that the pigs thrown 
into the caverns at the Thesmophoria 
were left there till the next festival. 




legend was told. At the moment when Pluto carried ofT 
Proserpine, a swineherd called Eubuleus chanced to be herd- 
ing his swine on the spot, and his herd was engulfed in the 
chasm down which Pluto vanished with Proserpine. Accord- 
singly at the Thesmophoria pigs were annually thrown into 
caverns to commemorate the disappearance of the swine of 
Eubuleus. It follows from this that the casting of the pigs 
into the vaults at the Thesmophoria formed part of the 
dramatic representation of Proserpine's descent into the 
lower world ; and as no image of Proserpine appears to 
have been thrown in, we may infer that the descent of the 
pigs was not so much an accompaniment -of her descent as 
the descent itself, in short, that the pigs were Proserpine. 
Afterwards when Proserpine or Demeter (for the two are 
equivalent) became anthropomorphic, a reason had to be 
found for the custom of throwing pigs into caverns at her 
festival ; and this was done by saying that when Pluto carried 
off Proserpine, there happened to be some swine browsing 
near, which were swallowed up along with her. The story 
is obviously a forced and awkward attempt to bridge over 
the gulf between the old conception of the corn-spirit as a 
pig and the new conception of her as an anthropomorphic 
goddess. A trace of the older conception survived in the 
legend that when the sad mother was searching for traces of 
the vanished Proserpine, the footprints of the lost one were 
obliterated by the footprints of a pig ; * originally, we may 
conjecture, the footprints of the pig were the footprints of 
Proserpine and of Demeter herself. A consciousness of the 
intimate connection of the pig with the corn lurks in the 
legend that the swineherd Eubuleus was a brother of 
Triptolemus, to whom Demeter first iihparted the secret of 
the com. Indeed, according to one version of the story, 
Eubuleus himself received, jointly with his brother Triptole- 
mus, the gift of the corn from Demeter as a reward for 
revealing to her the fate of Proserpine.* Further, it is to be 
noted that at the Thesmophoria the women appear to have 
eaten swine's flesh.' The meal, if I am right, must have 

1 Ovid, Fasti^ iv. 461-466, upon - Pausanias, i. 14. 3. 
which Gierig remarks, ** Sues melius 

poetaomisissetinhacnarratione,^* Such ' Schol. on Aristophanes, Frogs^ 

is the wisdom of the commentator. 338. 

I . 




been a solemn sacrament or communion, the worshippers 
partaking of the body of the god. „ 

As thus explained, the Thesmophoria has its analogies \ 
in the folk-customs of Northern Europe which have been 
already described. Just as at the Thesmophoria — an autumn 
festival in honour of the corn-goddess — swine's flesh was 
partly eaten, partly kept in caverns till the following year, 
when it was taken up to be sown with the seed-corn in the 
fields for the purpose of securing a good crop ; so in the \ 

neighbourhood of Grenoble the goat killed on the harvest- 
field IS partly eaten at the harvest-supper, partly pickled 
and kept till the next harvest ; ^ so at Poiiilly the ox killed | 
on the harvest-field is partly eaten by the harvesters, partly 1 
pickled and kept till the first day of sowing in spring,* 
probably to be then mixed with the seed, or eaten by the 
ploughmen, or both ; so at Udvarhely the feathers of the 
cock which is killed in the last sheaf at harvest are kept 
till spring, and then sown with the seed on the field ; * so in 
Hesse and Meiningen the flesh of pigs is eaten on Ash 
Wednesday or Candlemas, and the bones are kept till 
sowing-time, when they are put into the field sown or mixed 
with the seed in the bag ; * so, lastly, the com from the last 
sheaf is kept till Christmas, made into Yule Boar, and 
afterwards broken and mixed with the seed-corn at sowing 
in spring.* Thus, to put it generally, the corn-spirit is 
killed in animal form in autumn ; part of his flesh is eaten 
as a sacrament by his worshippers ; and part of it is kept 
till next sowing-time or harvest as a pledge and security for 
the continuance or renewal of the corn-spirit's energies. 
Whether in the interval between autumn and spring he is 
conceived as dead, or whether, like the ox in the bouphonia^ 
he is supposed to come to life again immediately after being 
killed, is not clear. At the Thesmophoria, according to 
Clement and Pausanias, as emended by Lobeck,* the pigs 
were thrown in alive, and were supposed to reappear at the 

* Above, p. 274. • In Clemens Alex., Protrept. ii. 17, 
"^ Al)Ove, p. 279. for luyapl^wTts xoipovt iK^XKowri 
3 Above p. 268. Lobeck (Agiaopkamus, p. 831) would 

Q€i rcAd ficydpois ^Qmt xolpovt ififidWovai. 

Above, p. 286. p^, j,is emendation of Pausanias, see 

* /^'V/. above, p. 300, note 4. 




festival of the following year. Here, therefore, if we accept 
Lobeck's emendations, the corn-spirit is conceived as alive 
throughout the year ; he lives and works under ground, but 
is brought up each autumn to be renewed and then replaced 
in his subterranean abode.^ 

If it is objected that the Greeks never could have 
conceived Demeter and Proserpine to be embodied in the 
form of pigs, it may be answered that in the cave of Phigalia 
in Arcadia the Black Demeter was portrayed with the head 
and mane of a horse on the body of a woman.* Between 
the portrait of a goddess as a pig, and the portrait of her as 
a woman with a horse's head, there is little to choose in 
respect of barbarism. The legend told of the Phigalian 
Demeter indicates that the horse was one of the animal 
forms assumed in ancient Greece, as in modern Europe,^ by 
the corn-spirit. It was said that in her search for her 
daughter, Demeter assumed the form of a mare to escape 
the addresses of Poseidon, and that, offended at his impor- 
tunity, she withdrew in dudgeon to a cave not far from 
Phigalia in the highlands of Western Arcadia. The very 
cavern, now turned into a little Christian chapel with its 
holy pictures, is still shown to the curious traveller far down 
the side of that profound ravine through which the brawling 
Neda winds under overhanging woods to the sea. There, 
robed in black, she tarried so long that the fruits of the earth 
were perishing, and mankind would have died of famine if 
Pan had not soothed the angry goddess and persuaded her to 
quit the cave. In memory of this event, the Phigalians set 
up an image of the Black Demeter in the cave ; it represented 
a woman dressed in a long robe, with the head and mane of 
a horse.* The Black Demeter, in whose absence the fruits 
of the earth perish, is plainly a mythical expression for the 
bare wintry earth stripped of its summer mantle of green. 

^ It is worth nothing that in Crete, 
which was an ancient seat of Demeter 
worship (see above, p. 170), the pig 
was esteemed very sacred and was not 
eaten (Athenaeus, ix. pp. 375 F-376 a). 
This would not exclude the possibility 
of its being eaten sacramental ly, as ai 
the Thesmophoria. 

^ Pausanias, viii. 42. 

' Above, p. 281 sqq, 

^ Pausanias, viii. 25 and 42. On the 
Phigalian Demeter, see \V. Mannhardt, 
J/./l p. 244 5(jq. I well remember 
how on a summer afternoon I sat at the 
mouth of the shallow cave, watching the 
play of sunshine on the lofty wooded 
sides of the ravine and listening to 
the murmur of the stream. 


Passing now to Attis and Adonis, we may note a few 
facts which seem to show that these deities of vegetation 
had also, like other deities of the same class, their animal 
embodiments. The worshippers of Attis abstained from 
eating the flesh of swine.^ This appears to indicate that the 
pig was regarded as an embodiment of Attis, And the 
legend that Attis was killed by a boar * points in the same 
direction. For after the examples of the goat Dionysus and 
the pig Demeter it may almost be laid down as a rule that 
an animal which is said to have injured a god was originally 
the god himself. Perhaps the cry of " Hyes Attes I Hyes 
Attes 1 " • which was raised by the worshippers of Attis, may 
be neither more nor less than " Pig Attis! Pig Attis!" — hyes 
being possibly a Phrygian form of the Greek hys^ " a pig." * 

In regard to Adonis, his connection with the boar was 
not always explained by the story that he had been killed by 
a boar. According to another story, a boar rent with his 
tusk the bark of the tree in which the infant Adonis was 
born.* According to another story, he perished at the hands 
of Hephaestus on Mount Lebanon while he was hunting 
wild boars.* These variations in the legend serve to show 
that, while the connection of the boar with Adonis was 
certain, the reason of the connection was not understood, 
and that consequently different stories were devised to 
explain it Certainly the pig ranked as a sacred animal 
among the Syrians. At the great religious metropolis of 
Hierapolis pigs were neither sacrificed nor eaten, and if a 
man touched a pig he was unclean for the rest of the day. 
Some people said this was because the pigs were unclean ; 
others said it was because the pigs were sacred.^ This 
difference of opinion points to a hazy state of religious 
thought in which the ideas of sanctity and uncleanness are 
not yet sharply distinguished, both being blent in a sort of 
vaporous solution to which w^ give the name of taboo. It 
is quite consistent with this that the pig should have been 
held to be an embodiment of the divine Adonis, and the 

' Above, p. 131. Neil of Pembroke College. 

* Ibid, * Above, p. 117. 

' Demosthenes, De corona^ P- S'S* * Cureton, SpicUegium Syriacum, p. 

^ The suggestion was made to me in 44. 

conversation by my friend Mr. R. A. ' Lucian, De dea Syria^ 54. 



AS PIGS 305 

analogies of Dionysus and Demeter make it probable that 
the story of the hostility of the animal to the god was 
only a late misapprehension of the old view of the god as 
embodied in a pig. The rule that pigs were not sacrificed 
or eaten by worshippers of Attis and presumably of Adonis, 
does not exclude the possibility that in these rituals the 
pig was slain on solemn occasions as a representative of 
the god and consumed sacramentally by the worshippers. 
Indeed, the sacramental killing and eating of an animal 
implies that the animal is sacred, and that, as a general 
rule, it is spared.^ 

The attitude of the Jews to the pig was as ambiguous as 
that of the heathen Syrians towards the same animal. The 
Greeks could not decide whether the Jews worshipped swine 
or abominated them. On the one hand they might not eat 
swine ; but on the other hand they might not kill them. 
And if the former rule speaks for the uncleanness, the latter 
speaks still more strongly for the sanctity of the animah 
For whereas both rules may, and one rule must, be explained 
on the supposition that the pig was sacred ; neither rule 
must, and one rule cannot, be explained on the supposition 
that the pig was unclean. If, therefore, we prefer the 
former supposition, we must conclude that, originally at 
least, the pig was revered rather than abhorred by the 
Israelites. We are confirmed in this opinion by observing 
that down to the time of Isaiah some of the Jews used to 
meet secretly in gardens to eat the flesh of swine and mice 
as a religious rite." Doubtless this was a very ancient rite, 
dating from a time when both the pig and the mouse were 
venerated as divine, and when their flesh was partaken of 
sacramentally on rare and solemn occasions as the body and 
blood of gods. And in general it may be said that all so- 
called unclean animals were originally sacred ; the reason 
for not eating them was that they were divine. 

In ancient Egypt, within historical times, the pig 

^ The heathen Harranians sacrificed Cyprus on 2nd April (Joannes Lydus, 

swine once a year and ate the flesh De mensibus^ iv. 45) represented 

(En-Nedim, in Chwolsohn's Die Ssabier Adonis himself. See his Keligiofi of 

und der Ssabismus, it 42). My friend the Sefuites^* pp. 290 sq.^ 411. 

W. Robertson Smith conjectured that ' Plutarch, Quaest, Coftviv. iv. 5. 

the wild boars annually sacrificed in ' Isaiah Ixv. 3, Ixvi. 3, 17. 





occupied the same dubious position as in Syria and 
Palestine, though at first sight its uncleanness is more 
prominent than its sanctity. The Egyptians are generally 
said by Greek writers to have abhorred the pig as a foul and 
loathsome animal.^ If a man so much as touched a pig in 
passing, he stepped into the river with all his clothes on, to 
wash off the taint.* To drink pig's milk was believed to 
cause leprosy to the drinker.* Swineherds, though natives 
of Egypt, were forbidden to enter any temple, and they were 
the only men who were thus excluded. No one would give 
his daughter in marriage to a swineherd, or marry a swine- 
herd's daughter ; the swineherds married among themselves.* 
Yet once a year the Egyptians sacrificed pigs to the moon 
and to Osiris, and not only sacrificed them, but ate of their 
flesh, though on any other day of the year they would 
neither sacrifice them nor taste of their flesh. Those who 
were too poor to offer a pig on this day baked cakes of 
dough, and offered them instead.' This can hardly be 
explained except by the supposition that the pig was a 
sacred animal which was eaten sacramentally by his 
worshippers once a year. The view that in Egypt the pig 
was sacred is borne out by the very facts which, to modems, 
might seem to prove the contrary. Thus the Egyptians 
thought, as we have seen, that to drink pig's milk produced 
leprosy. But exactly analogous views are held by savages 
about the animals and plants which they deem most sacred. 
Thus in the island of Wetar (between New Guinea and 
Celebes) people believe themselves to be variously descended 
from wild pigs, serpents, crocodiles, turtles, dogs, and eels ; a 
man may not eat an animal of the kind from which he is 
descended ; if he does so, he will become a leper, and go 

^ Herodotus, ii. 47 ; Plutarch, his 
et Osiris^ 8 ; Aelian, Nat. Anim, x. 
16. Joiephus merely says that the 
Egyptian priests abstained from the 
flesh of swine (Contra Apiotutn^ ii. 13). 

* Herodotus, /.r. 

' Plutarch and Aelian, ILcc, 

* Herodotus, /.<*. 

* Herodotus, ii. 47 j/. ; Aelian and 
Plutarch,, Herodotus distinguishes 
the sacrifice to the moon from that to 

Osiris. According to him, at the 
sacrifice to the moon, the extremity of 
the pig's tail, together with the spleen 
and the caul, was covered with fat 
and burned ; the rest of the flesh was 
eaten. On the evening (not the eve, 
see Stein's note on the passage) of the 
festival the sacrifice to Osiris took 
place. Each man slew a pig before 
his door, then gave it to the swineherd, 
from whom he had bought it, to take 






i \ 


mad.^ Amongst the Omaha Indians of North America men 
whose totem is the elk, believe that if they ate the flesh 
of the male elk they would break out in boils and white 
spots in different parts of. their bodies.^ In the same 
tribe men whose totem is the red maize, think that if 
they ate red maize they would have running sores all round 
their mouths.' The Bush negroes of Surinam, who practise 
totemism, believe that if they ate the capiat (an animal like 
a pig) it would give them leprosy;^ perhaps the capiat 
is one of their totems. In Samoa each man had generally 
his god in the shape of some species of animal ; and if 
he ate one of these divine animals, it was supposed that 
the god avenged himself by taking up his abode in the 
eater's body, and there generating an animal of the kind 
he had eaten till it caused his death. For example, if a 
man whose god was the prickly sea-urchin ate one of 
these creatures, a prickly sea-urchin grew in his stomach 
and killed him. If his god was an eel, and he ate an eel, 
he became very ill, and before he died the voice of the god 
was heard from his stomach saying, '* I am killing this 
man ; he ate my incarnation." * The Syrians, in antiquity, 
who esteemed fish sacred, thought that if they ate fish 
their bodies would break out in ulcers, and their feet and 
stomach would swell up.^ These examples prove that the 
eating of a sacred animal is often believed to produce skin- 
disease or even death ; so far, therefore, they support the 
view that the pig must have been sacred in Egypt, since the 
effect of drinking its milk was believed to be leprosy. 

Again, the rule that, after touching a pig, a man had to 
wash himself and his clothes, also favours the view of the 
sanctity of the pig. For it is a common belief that the 
effect of contact with a sacred object must be removed, by 
washing or otherwise, before a man is free to mingle with 
his fellows. Thus the Jews wash their hands after reading 

* Riedel, De sluik' en kroeskarige * J. Crevaux, Va^a^s dans PAntt!' 

rasun tusscken StUbes en Papna^ pp. rique dtt Sud^ p. 59. 
432, 452. * Turaer, Samoa^ PP- ^7 ^^•* 5^ **/• 

« Tkird Annual Rtportof the Burtau p 'f ''""'':• R'/'TTll 'a' 

/. r>*A / i^t^ V _» 00 « Porphyry, //* abstinenha^ iv. 15. A» 

^Etkmlog, (W^hington. 1884). p. ,„ '^^Unctity of fish among the 

^' Syrians, see alio Ovid, Fastiy ii. 473 sq, ; 

' Ibid, p. 231. Diodoms, ii. 4. 


the sacred scriptures. Before coming forth from the taber- 
nacle after the sin-offering, the high priest had to wash 
himself, and put off the garments which he had worn in the 
holy place.^ It was a rule of Greek ritual that, in offering 
an expiatory sacrifice, the sacrificer should not touch the 
sacrifice, and that, after the offering was made, he must wash 
his body and his clothes in a river or spring before he could 
enter a city or his own house.* The Polynesians felt strongly 
the need of ridding themselves of the sacred contagion, if it 
may be so called, which they caught by touching sacred 
objects. Various ceremonies were performed for the purpose 
of removing this contagion. We have seen, for example, 
how in Tonga a man who happened to touch a sacred chief, 
or anything personally belonging to him, had to perform a 
certain ceremony before he could feed himself with his 
hands ; otherwise it was believed that he would swell up 
and die, or at least be afflicted with scrofula or some other 
disease.' We have seen, too, what fatal effects are supposed 
to follow, and do actually follow, from contact with a sacred 
object in New Zealand.* In short, primitive man believes 
that what is sacred is dangerous ; it is pervaded by a sort of 
electrical sanctity which communicates a shock to, even if it 
does not kill, whatever comes in contact with it. Hence 
the savage is unwilling to touch or even to see that which 
he deems peculiarly holy. Thus Bechuanas, of the Croco- 
dile clan, think it ** hateful and unlucky " to meet or see a 
crocodile ; the sight is thought to cause inflammation of the 
eyes. Yet the crocodile is their most sacred object ; they 
call it their father, swear by it, and celebrate it in their 
festivals.^ The goat is the sacred animal of the Madenassana 
Bushmen ; yet " to look upon it would be to render the man 
for the time impure, as well as to cause him undefined un- 
easiness."® The Elk clan, among the Omaha Indians, 
believe that even to touch the male elk would be followed 

* Leviticus xvi. 23 s</. * Above, vol. i. p. 321 sq, 

* Porphyiy, De abstin. ii. 44. For * Casalis, The Basutos^ p. 211 ; 
this and the Jewish examples I am Livingstone, Missioiiary Travels and 
indebted to my friend W. Robertson Researches in South Africa^ p. 255 ; 
Smith. Compare his Keiigion of the John Mackenzie, Ten Years north of 
Semites^'^ pp. 351, 426, 450 sq. the Orange River^ p. 135 note. 

* Vol. L p. 319 Jjr. • J. Mackenzie, I.e. 



by an eruption of boils and white spots on the body.^ 
Members of the Reptile clan in the same tribe think that if 
one of them touches or smells a snake, it will make his hair 
white.^ In Samoa people whose god was a butterfly be- 
lieved that if they caught a butterfly it would strike them 
dead.* Again, in Samoa the reddish-seared leaves of the 
banana-tree were commonly used as plates for handing food ; 
but if any member of the Wild Pigeon family had used 
banana leaves for this purpose, it was supposed that he would 
sufler from rheumatic swellings or an eruption all over the 
body like chicken-pox.* 

In the light of these parallels the beliefs and customs of 
the Egyptians touching the pig are probably to be explained 
as based upon an opinion of the extreme sanctity rather 
than of the extreme uncleanness of the animal ; or rather, to 
put it more correctly, they imply that the animal was looked 
on, not simply as a filthy and disgusting creature, but as a 
being endowed with high supernatural powers, and that as 
such it was regarded with that primitive sentiment of 
religious awe and fear in which the feelings of reverence and 
abhorrence are almost equally blended. The ancients them- 
selves seem to have been aware that there was another side 
tp the horror with which swine seemed to inspire the 
Egyptians. For the Greek astronomer and mathematician 
Eudoxus, who resided fourteen months in Egypt and con- 
versed with the priests,^ was of opinion that the Egyptians 
spared the pig, not out of abhorrence, but from a regard to 
its utility in agriculture ; for, according to him, when the 
Nile had subsided, herds of swine were turned loose over the 
fields to tread the seed down into the moist earth.^ But 
when a being is thus the object of mixed and implicitly con- 
tradictory feelings, he may be said to occupy a position of 
unstable equilibrium. In course of time one of the con- 
tradictory feelings is likely to prevail over the other, and 
according as the feeling which finally predominates is that 

* Third Annual Report of the ^ Diogenes Laertius, Vitat Philos. 
Bureau of Ethnology (Washington, viii. 8. 

1884), p. 225. 
» Ibid. p. 275. « .^elian, Nat, Anim, x. 16. The 

' Turner, Samoa^ p. 76. story is repeated by Pliny, Xat, Hist, 

* Ihid, p. 70. xviii. i68. 




of reverence or abhorrence, the being who is the object of it 
will rise into a god or sink into a devil. The latter, on the 
whole, was the fate of the pig in Egypt. For in historical 
times the fear and horror of the pig seem certainly to have 
outweighed the reverence and worship of which he must 
once have been the object, and of which, even in his fallen 
state, he never quite lost trace. He came to be looked on 
as an embodiment of Set or Typhon, the Egyptian devil 
and enemy of Osiris. For it was in the shape of a boar 
that Typhon menaced the eye of the god Horus, who burned 
him and instituted the sacrifice of the pig, the sun-god Ra 
having declared the pig abominable.^ Again, the story that 
Typhon was hunting a boar when he discovered and mangled 
the body of Osiris, and that this was the reason why pigs 
were sacrificed once a year,* is clearly a modernised version 
of an older story that Osiris, like Adonis and Attis, was slain 
or mangled by a boar, or by Typhon in the form of a boar. 
Thus, the annual sacrifice of a pig to Osiris might naturally 
be interpreted as vengeance inflicted on the hostile animal that 
had slain or mangled the god. But, in the first place, when 
an animal is thus killed as a solemn sacrifice once and once 
only in the year, it generally or always means that the animal 
is divine, that he is spared and respected the rest of the year 
as a god and slain, when he is slain, also in the character of 
a god.' In the second place, the examples of Dionysus and 
Demetcr, if not of Attis and Adonis, have taught us that the 
animal which is sacrificed to a god on the ground that he is 
the god's enemy may have been, and probably was, origfinally 
the god himself. Therefore, the annual sacrifice of a pig to 
Osiris, coupled with the alleged hostility of the animal to the 
god, tends to show, first, that originally the pig was a god, 
and, second, that he was Osiris. At a later age, when Osiris 
became anthropomorphic and his original relation to the 
pig had been forgotten, the animal was first distinguished 
from him, and afterguards opposed as an enemy to him by 
mythologists who could think of no reason for killing a 

^ Lefebure, Le mythe OsirUtt^ p. 44. 

* Pluurch, Ists et Osiris, 8. Lcfc- 
btire {op, cit, p. 46) recognises that in 
this story the boar is Typhon himself. 

^ This important principle was first 

recognised by W. Robertson Smith. 
See his article " Sacrifice," Encycl, 
Britamu 9th ed. xxi. 137 sq, Cp. 
his Religio9t of the Semites^ pp. 373, 
410 sq. 





beast in connection with the worship of a god except that 
the beast was the god's enemy ; or, as Plutarch puts it, not 
that which is dear to the gods, but that which is the con- 
trary, is fit to be sacrificed.^ At this later stage the havoc 
which a wild boar notoriously makes amongst the com* would 
supply a plausible reason for regarding him as an enemy 
of the corn-spirit, though originally, if I am right, the very 
freedom with which the boar ranged at will through the 
corn led people to identify him with the corn -spirit, to 
whom he was afterwards opposed as an enemy. The view 
which identifies the pig with Osiris derives not a little 
support from the sacrifice of pigs to him on the very day on 
which, according to tradition, Osiris himself was killed ; * for 
thus the killing of the pig was the annual representation of 
the killing of Osiris, just as the throwing of the pigs into the 
caverns at the Thesmophoria was an annual representation 
of the descent of Proserpine into the lower world ; and both 
customs are parallel to the European practice of killing a 
goat, cock, and so forth, at harvest as a representative of the 

Again, the view that the pig, originally Osiris himself, 
fifterwards came to be r^arded as an embodiment of his 
enemy Typhon, is supported by the similar relation of red- 
haired men and red oxen to Typhon. For in regard to the 
red-haired men who were burned and whose ashes were 
scattered with winnowing-fans, we have seen fair grounds for 
believing that originally, like the red-haired puppies killed 
at Rome in spring, they were representatives of the corn- 
spirit himself, that is, of Osiris, and were slain for the express 
purpose of making the corn turn red or golden. Yet at 
a later time these men were explained to be representatives. 

1 Plutarch, his et Osiris^ 31. 

' Wild pigs are the special enemies 
of the crops in South Africa ; the 
fences erected by the Zulus round their 
gardens are principally intended to 
serve as a protection against the de- 
vastating incursions of these animals. 
.See J. Shooter, The Kafirs of Natal, 
p. 19. In Nias also whole fields are 
sometimes trampled down by these 
pests in a single night. Often the 

stillness of the serene equatorial nights 
is broken by the strident cries of the 
watchers of the fields, who are trying 
to frighten away the swine ; the sound 
goes echoing through the wooded 
valleys for a long time, and here and 
there a dull grunting tells that the 
efforts of the sentinels have not been in 
vain. See E. Modigliani, Un viag^o 
it Nias, pp. 525 sq,^ 601. 

^ Lefcbure, L€ my the Osirien, p. 48 sq. 




not of Osiris, but of his enemy Typhon/ and the killing of 
them was regarded as an act of vengeance inflicted on the 
enemy of the god. Similarly, the red oxen sacrificed by the 
Egyptians were said to be offered on the ground of their 
resemblance to Typhon ; * though it is niore likely that 
originally they were slain on the ground of their resemblance 
to the corn-spirit Osiris. We have seen that the ox is a 
common representative of the corn-spirit and is slain as such 
on the harvest-field. 

Osiris was regularly identified with the bull Apis of 
Memphis and the bull Mnevis of Heliopolis.^ But it is hard 
to say whether these bulls were embodiments of him as the 
corn-spirit, as the red oxen appear to have been, or whether 
they were not rather entirely distinct deities which came to 
be fused with Osiris by syncretism. The universality of the 
worship of these two bulls * seems to put them on a different 
footing from the ordinary sacred animals whose worships were 
purely local. Hence if the latter were evolved from totems, 
as they may have been, some other origin would have to be 
found for the worship of Apis and Mnevis. If these bulls 
were not originally embodiments of the corn-god Osiris, they 
may possibly be descendants of the sacred cattle worshipped 
by a pastoral people.^ If this were so, ancient Egypt would 
exhibit a stratification of three great types of religion corre- 
sponding to three great stages of society. Totemism, which 
from one point of view may be described as a species of 
worship of wild animals practised by many tribes in the 
hunting stage of society, would be represented by the worship 
of the local sacred animals ; the worship of cattle, which 

1 Plutarch, Isis et Osiris, 33, 73 ; 
Diodorus, i. iS, 

* Plutarch, /sis et Osiris, 31 ; Dio- 
(lorus, i. 88. Cp. Herodotus, iL 38. 

' Plutarch, /sis ei Osiris, 20, 29, 
33} 43 ; Strabo, xviL i. 31 ; Diodorus, 
i. 21, 85 ; DttDcker, Gesckickte des 
Alterthumsf i. 55 sqq. On Apis and 
Mnevis, see also Herodotus, ii. 153, 
with Wiedeiflann's comment, iii. 27 
sq, ; Ammianus Marcellinus, xxii. 14. 
7; Pliny, Nat. Hist, viiL 184 sqq.; 
Solinus, xxxii. 17-21 ; Cicero, De nat, 
dear. i. 29 ; Aelian, Xat, Anim, xi. 10 
sq,\ Plutarch, (_^i/a«rj/. Cotrviv. \\\\. I. 3; 

id,, /sis et Osiris, 5, 35 ; Eusebius, 
f^raepar, Evang, iii. 13. I sq. ; Pau- 
sanias, i. 18. 4, vii. 22. 3 sq. Both 
Apis and Mnevis were black bulls, but 
Apis had certain white spots. See 
Wiedemann, Die Religion der alten 
Aegypter, pp. 95, 99-101. 

^ Diodorus, i. 21. 

^ On the religious reverence of pas- 
toral peoples for their cattle, and the 
possible derivation of the Apis and Isis- 
Hathor worship from the pastoral stage 
of society, see W. Rol>ertson Smith, 
Religion of the Semites,^ p. 296 






belongs to society in the pastoral stage, would be represented 
by the cults of Apis and Mnevis ; and the worship of 
cultivated plants, which is peculiar to society in the agricul- 
tural stage, would be represented by the religion of Osiris 
and Isis.^ The Egyptian reverence for cows, which were 
never killed,^ might belong either to the second or third of 
these stages. The consecration of cows to Isis, who was 
portrayed with cow's horns and may have been supposed to 
be incarnate in the animals, would indicate that they, like 
the red oxen, were embodiments of the corn-spirit How- 
ever, this identification of Isis with the cow, like that of Osiris 
with the bulls Apis and Mnevis, may be only an effect of 
syncretism. But whatever the original relation of Apis to 
Osiris may have been, there is one fact about the former which 
ought not to be passed over in a chapter dealing with the 
custom of killing the god. Although the bull Apis was 
worshipped as a god with much pomp and profound reverence, 
he was not suffered to live beyond a certain length of 
time which was prescribed by the sacred books, and on the 
expiry of which he was drowned in a holy spring.* The 
limit, according to Plutarch, was twenty-five years ; * but it 
cannot always have been enforced, for the tombs of the Apis 
bulls have been discovered in modern times, and from the 
inscriptions on them it appears that in the twenty-second 
dynasty two bulls lived more than twenty-six years.* 

We are now in a position to hazard a conjecture — for 
ft can be little more — as to the meaning of the tradition 
that Virbius, the first of the divine Kings of the Wood at 
Aricia, was killed by horses. Having found, first, that 
spirits of vegetation are not infrequently represented in the 
form of horses ; ^ and, second, that the animal which in later 
legends is said to have injured the god was sometimes 

^ I have allowed this passage to stand 
sabstantially as I wrote it, though in the 
light of the Central Australian evidence, 
so admirably collected and presented by 
Messrs. Spencer and Gillen, totemism 
would seein to have been in its origin a 
system of magic rather than of religion. 
(Note to Second Edition.) 

' Herodotus, ii. 41. 

* Pliny, Xat. Hist, viii. 184; 
Solinus, xxxii. iS : Anr.nianus Mar- 

cellinus, xxii. 14. 7. The spring or 
well in which he was drowned was 
perhaps the one from which his drink- 
ing-water was procured ; he might not 
drink the water of the Nile (Plutarch, 
his et Osiris^ 5). 

* Plutarch, J sis et Osiris, 56. 

* Maspero, Histoirt ancienne^^ p. 3'» 
Cp. Duncker, Geschichte des Alter' 
thumsf i. 56. 

* See above, p. 281 sqq. 


originally the god himself, we may conjecture that the 
horses by which Virbius was said, to have been slain were 
really embodiments of him as a deity of vegetation. The 
myth that Virbius had been killed by. horses was probably 
invented to explain certain features in his worship, amongst 
others the custom of excluding horses from his sacred grove. 
For myth changes while custom remains constant ; men I 
continue to do what their fathers did before them, though 
the reasons on which their fathers acted have been long \ 

forgotten. The history of religion is a long attempt to 
reconcile old custom with new reason, to find a sound theory 
for an absurd practice. In the case before us we may be 
sure that the myth is more modern than the custom and by 
no means represents the original reason for excluding horses 
from the grove. From their exclusion it might be inferred 
that horses could not be the sacred animals or embodiments 
of the god of the grove. But the inference would be rash. 
The goat was at one time a sacred animal or embodiment 
of Athena, as may be inferred from the practice of represent- 
ing her clad in a goat -skin (aegis). Yet the goat was 
neither sacrificed to her as a rule, nor allowed to enter her 
great sanctuary, the Acropolis at Athens. The reason 
alleged for this was that the goat injured the olive, the 
sacred tree of Athena.^ So far, therefore, the relation of 
the goat to Athena is parallel to the relation of the horse 
to Virbius, both animals being excluded from the sanctuary 
on the ground of injury done by them to the god. But 
from Varro we learn that there was an exception to the 
rule which excluded the goat from the Acropolis. Once a 
year, he says, the goat was driven on to the Acropolis for a 
necessary sacrifice.* Now, as has been remarked before, 
when an animal is sacrificed once and once only in the year, 
it is probably slain, not as a victim offered to the god, but 
as a representative of the god himself. Therefore we may 
infer that if a goat was sacrificed on the Acropolis once a 
year, it was sacrificed in the character of Athena herself ; ^ 

^ Athenaeas, xiiL p. 587 A ; Pliny, *' hfc nomitu eiiam Athefiis in arcem 

Nat, Hist. viii. 204. Cp. EncycL turn inigi, praeterquam semel ad neceS' 

Britann, 9th ed. art, " Sacrifice,** xxi. sarium sacrijicium.^* By senul Varro 

135. probably means once a year. 

- Varro, De agri cult, i. 2. 19 ^. : ' The force of this inference i» 




and it may be conjectured that the skin of the sacrificed 
animal was placed on the statue of the goddess and formed 
the aegis, which would thus be renewed annually. Similarly 
at Thebes in Egypt rams were sacred and were not sacri- 
ficed. But on one day in the year a ram was killed, and 
its skin was placed on the statue of the god Ammon.^ Now, 
if we knew the ritual of the Arician grove better, we might 
find that the rule of excluding horses from it, like the rule 
of excluding goats from the Acropolis at Athens, was 
subject to an annual exception, a horse being once a year 
taken into the grove and sacrificed as an embodiment of the 
god Virbius.- By the usual misunderstanding the horse 
thus killed would come in time to be regarded as an enemy 
oflfered up in sacrifice to the god whom he had injured, like 
the pig which was sacrificed to Demeter and Osiris or the 
goat which was sacrificed to Athena and Dionysus. It is 
so easy for a writer to record a rule without noticing an 
exception that we need not wonder at finding the rule of 
the Arician grove recorded without any mention of an ex- 
ception such as I suppose. If we had had only the state- 
ments of Athenaeus and Pliny, we should have known only 
the rule which forbade the sacrifice of goats to Athena and 
excluded them from the Acropolis, without being aware of 
the important exception which the fortunate preservation of 
Varro's work has revealed to us. 

The conjecture that once a year a horse may have been 
sacrificed in the Arician grove as a representative of the 
deity of the grove derives some support from the similar 
sacrifice of a horse which took place once a year at Rome. 
On the fifteenth of October in each year a chariot-race was 
run on the Field of Mars. Stabbed with a spear, the right- 
hand horse of the victorious team was then sacrificed to 

greatly weakened, if not destroyed, b)- 
a iact which I had overlooked when I 
wrote this book originally. A goat was 
sacrificed to Brauronian Artemis at her 
festival called the Brauronia(Hesychius, 
s.v. Bpavpu^loit ; compare Bekker's 
y/fucdpia Grtuca^ p. 445, line 6 sqq, ). As 
the Brauronian Artemis had a sanctuary 
on the Acropolis of Athens (Pausanias, 
i. 23. 7), it seems probable that the goat 

sacrificed once a year on the Acropolis 
was sacrificed to her and not to Athena. 
(Note to Second Edition.) 

^ Herodotus, ii. 42. 

- It b worth noting that Hippolytus, 
with whom Virbius was identified, and 
who was also reported to have been killed 
by horses, is said to have dedicated 
horses to Aesculapius, who had raised 
him from the dead (Pausanias, ii. 27. 4). 


Mars for the purpose of ensuring good crops, and its head 
was cut off and adorned with a string of loaves. Thereupon 
the inhabitants of two wards — the Sacred Way and the 
Subura — contended with each other who should get the 
head. If the people of the Sacred Way got it, they fastened 
it to a wall of the king's house ; if the people of the Subura 
got it, they fastened it to the Mamilian tower. The 
horse's tail was cut off and carried to the king's house with 
such speed that the blood dripped on the hearth of the \ 

house.^ Further, it appears that the blood of the horse was 
caught and preserved till the twenty-first of April, when the 
Vestal virgins mixed it with the blood of the unborn calves 
which had been sacrificed six days before. The mixture 
was then distributed to shepherds, and used by them for 
fumigating their flocks.* 

In this ceremony the decoration of the horse's head 
with a string of loaves, and the alleged object of the sacri- 
fice, namely, to procure a good harvest, clearly indicate that 
the horse was killed as one of those animal representatives 
of the corn-spirit of which we have seen so many examples. f 
The custom of cutting off the horse's tail is like the African 
custom of cutting off the tails of the oxen and sacrificing them 
to obtain a good crop.* In both the Roman and the African 
custom the animal stands for the corn-spirit, and its fructify- 
ing power is supposed to reside especially in its tail. The 
latter idea occurs, as we have seen, in European folk-lore* 
Again, the custom of fumigating the cattle in spring with 
the blood of the horse may be compared with the custom 
of giving the Maiden as fodder to the horses in spring or 
the cattle at Christmas, and giving the Yule Boar to the 
ploughing oxen or horses to eat in spring.* All these 
customs aim at ensuring the blessing of the corn-spirit on the 
homestead and its inmates and storing it up for another year. 

The Roman sacrifice of the October horse, as it was 
called, carries us back to the early days when the Subura, 
afterwards a low and squalid quarter of the great metro- 

> Festus, ed. Miiller, pp. 178, 179, * Ovid, Fasti, iv. 731 sqq.^ cp. 629 

220; Plutarch, Quaest. Rom, 97; j^^.; Proj)ertiu5, v. i. \^ sq. 
Polybius, xiL 4 B. The sacrifice is ' Above, p. 296. 

referred to by Julian, Orai. v. p. 176 D * Above, pp. 260 j/., 263. 

(p. 228 cd. Hertlein). ^ Above, p. 286. 


polls, was still a separate village, whose inhabitants engaged 
in a friendly contest on the harvest-field with their neigh- 
bours of Rome, then a little rural town. The Field of 
Mars on which the ceremony took place lay beside the 
Tiber, and formed part of the king's domain down to the 
abolition of the monarchy. For tradition ran that at the 
time when the last of the kings was driven from Rome, the 
corn stood ripe for the sickle on the crown lands beside the 
river ; but no one would eat the accursed grain and it was 
flung into the river in such heaps that, the water being low 
with the summer heat, it formed the nucleus of an island.^ 
The horse sacrifice was thus an old autumn custom observed 
upon the king's corn-fields at the end of the harvest The 
tail and blood of the horse, as the chief parts of the corn- 
spirit's representative, were taken to the king's house and 
kept there ; just as in Germany the harvest-cock is nailed 
on the gable or over the door of the farmhouse ; and as the 
last sheaf, in the form of the Maiden, is carried home and 
kept over the fireplace in the Highlands of Scotland. Thus 
the blessing of the corn-spirit was brought to the king's 
house and hearth and, through them, to the community of 
which he was the head. Similarly in the spring and 
autumn customs of Northern Europe the Maypole is some- 
times set up in front of the house of the mayor or burgo- 
master, and the last sheaf at harvest is brought to him as 
the head of the village. But while the tail and blood fell to 
the king, the neighbouring village of the Subura, which no 
doubt once had a similar ceremony of its own, was gratified 
by being allowed to compete for the prize of the horse's 
head. The Mamilian tower to which the Suburans nailed 
the horse's head when they succeeded in carrying it off, 
appears to have been a peel-tower or keep of the old 
Mamilian family, the magnates of the village.^ The 
ceremony thus performed on the king's fields and at his 
house on behalf of the whole town and of the neighbouring 
village presupposes a time when each township performed a 
similar ceremony on its own fields. In the rural districts 
of Latium the villages may have continued to observe the 
custom, each on its own land, long after the Roman hamlets 

* Livy, ii. 5. - Festus, cd. Miiller, pp. 130, 131. 



had merged their separate harvest-homes in the common 
celebration on the king's lands.^ There k no intrinsic 
improbability in the supposition that the sacred grove of 
Aricia, like the Field of Mars at Rome, may have been the 
scene of a common harvest celebration, at which a horse was 
sacrificed with the same rude rites on behalf of the neigh- 
bouring villages. The horse would represent the fructifying 
spirit both of the tree and of the com, for the two ideas 
melt into each other, as we see in customs like the Harvest- 

§ 1 1. Eating the God 

We have now seen that the corn-spirit is represented 
sometimes in human, sometimes in animal form, and that in 
both cases he is killed in the person of his representative 
and eaten sacramentally. To find examples of actually 
killing the human representative of the corn-spirit we had 
of course to go to savage races ; but the harvest-suppers of 
our European peasants have furnished unmistakable ex- 
amples of the sacramental eating of animals as representa- 
tives of the corn-spirit But further, as might have been 
anticipated, the new com is itself eaten sacramentally, that 
is, as the body of the com-spirit. In Wermland, Sweden, 
the farmer's wife uses the grain of the last sheaf to bake a 
loaf in the shape of a little girl ; this loaf is divided amongst 
the whole household and eaten by them.* Here the loaf 
represents the corn-spirit conceived as a maiden ; just as in 
Scotland the com-spirit is similarly conceived and repre- 
sented by the last sheaf made up in the form of a woman 
and bearing the name of the Maiden. As usual, the com- 
spirit is believed to reside in the last sheaf; and to eat a 
loaf made from the last sheaf is, therefore, to eat the com- 
spirit itself. Similarly at La Palisse, in France, a man made 
of dough is hung upon the fir-tree which is carried on the 
last harvest-waggon. The tree and the dough-man are 
taken to the mayor's house and kept there till the vintage 
is over. Then the close of the harvest is celebrated by a 

' The October horse is the subject above account is a summary, 
of an essay by Mannhardt {Mytkdog, * Mannhardt, Myth, Forsik, p 

Forsih. pp. 156-201), of which the 179. 


1 1 1 OF NE IV CROPS 3 1 9 

feast at which the mayor breaks the dough-man in pieces 
and gives the pieces to the people to eat.^ 

In these examples the corn -spirit is represented and 
eaten in human shape. In other cases, though the new 
corn is not baked in loaves of human shape, still the solemn 
ceremonies with which it is eaten suffice to indicate that it 
is partaken of sacramentally, that is, as the body of the 
corn-spirit. For example, the following ceremonies used to 
be observed by Lithuanian peasants at eating the new corn. 
When the harvest and the sowing of the new com were 
over, each farmer held a festival called Sabarios, that is, 
" the mixing or throwing together." He took nine good 
handfuls of each kind of crop — wheat, barley, oats, Iflax, 
beans, lentils, and the rest ; and each handful he divided into 
three parts. The twenty-seven portions of each grain were 
then thrown on a heap and all mixed up together. The grain 
used had to be that which was first threshed and winnowed 
and which h^d been set aside and kept for this purpose. A 
part of the grain thus mixed was employed to bake little 
loaves, one for each of the household ; the rest was mixed 
with more barley or oats and made into beer. The first beer 
brewed from this mixture was for the drinking of the farmer, 
his wife, and children ; the second brew was for the servants. 
The beer being ready, the farmer chose an evening when 
no stranger was expected. Then he knelt down before the 
barrel of beer, drew a jugful of the liquor and poured it on 
the bung of the barrel, saying, " O fruitful earth, make rye 
and barley and all kinds of corn to flourish.'* Next he took 
the jug to the parlour, where his wife and children awaited 
him. On the floor of the parlour lay bound a black or white 
or speckled (not a red) cock and a hen of the same colour and 
of the same brood, which must have been hatched within the 
year. Then the farmer knelt down, with the jug in his hand, 
and thanked God for the harvest and prayed for a good crop 
next year. Next all lifted up their hands and said, " O 
God, and thou, O earth, we give you this cock and hen as 
a free-will offering." . With that the farmer killed the fowls 
with the blows of a wooden spoon, for he might not cut 

^ Mannhardt, Bjtumku'tm^ p. 235. made of the new corn ; but probably 
It is not said that the dough-man U this is, or once was, the case. 




their heads off. After the first prayer and after killing each 
of the birds he poured out a third of the beer. Then his 
wife boiled the fowls in a new pot which had never been 
used before. After that, a bushel was set, bottom upwards, 
on the floor, and on it were placed the little loaves mentioned 
above and the boiled fowls. Next the new beer was fetched, 
together with a ladle and three mugs, none of which was 
used except on this occasion. When the farmer had ladled 
the beer into the mugs, the family knelt down round the , • 
bushel. The father then uttered a prayer and drank off the | 
three mugs of beer. The rest followed his example. Then 
the loaves and the flesh of the fowls were eaten, after which 
the beer went round again, till every one had emptied each 
of the three mugs nine times. None of the food should 
remain over ; but if anything did happen to be left, it was i 
consumed next morning with the same ceremonies. The \ 
bones were given to the dog to eat ; if he did not eat 
them all up, the remains were buried under the dung in the ! 
cattle-stall. This ceremony was observed at the beginning 
of December. On the day on which it took place no bad 
word might be spoken.^ 

Such was the custom about two hundred years ago. At 
the present day in Lithuania, when new potatoes or loaves 
made from the new com are being eaten, all the people at 
table pull each other's hair.^ The meaning of this last 
custom is obscure, but a similar custom was certainly 
observed by the heathen Lithuanians at their solemn sacri^ 
fices.' Many of the Esthonians of the island of Oesel will 
not eat bread baked of the new corn till they have first 
taken a bite at a piece of iron.* The iron is here plainly a 
charm, intended to render harmless the spirit that is in the 
corn.* In Sutherlandshire at the present day, when the 
new potatoes are dug all the family must taste them, other- 
wise " the spirits in them [the potatoes] take offence, and the 
potatoes would not keep."* In one part of Yorkshire it is 

* Praetorius, Deliciae Prusstcaty pp. * Holzmayer, •* Osiliana," Vcrhand- 

60-64 ; Mannhardt, A, IV, F. p. 249 tqg, lungen der gelehrten Estnischen Geseil- 

' Bezzenberger, Litauiscke For- schaft zu Dorpa/, vii. Heft 2, p. 108. 

schungen (Gottingen, 1882), p. 89. ^ On iron as a charm against spirits, 

^ Simon Gninau,/y^tfWi>ri*C*r»«iit, sec above, vol. i. p. 344 sqq. 

cd. Perlbach, i. 91. • />A6-/(pr(f/tfimfa/,vii.(i889),p. 54. 




Still customary for the clergyman to cut the first corn ; and 
my informant believes that the corn so cut is used to make 
the communion bread.^ If the latter part of the custom is 
correctly reported (and analogy is all in its favour), it shows 
how the Christian communion has absorbed within itself a 
sacrament which is doubtless far older than Christianity. 

Among the heathen Cheremiss on the left bank of the 
Volga, when the first bread baked from the new corn is to 
be eaten, the villagers assemble in the house of the oldest 
inhabitant, the eastern door is opened, and all pray with 
their faces towards it. Then the sorcerer or priest gives to 
each of them a mug of beer, which they drain ; next he cuts 
and hands to every person a morsel of the loaf, which they 
partake of. Finally, the young people go to the elders and 
bowing down to the earth before them say, " We pray God 
that you may live, and that God may let us pray next year 
for new corn." The rest of the day is passed in mirth and 
dancing. The whole ceremony, observes the writer who has 
described it, looks almost like a caricature of the Eucharist.^ 
According to another account, each Cheremiss householder 
on this occasion, after bathing, places some of each kind of 
grain, together with malt, cakes, and drink, in a vessel, which 
he holds up to the sun, at the same time thanking the gods 
for the good things which they have bestowed upon him.* 
But this part of the ceremony is a sacrifice rather than a 
sacrament of the new corn. 

At the close of the rice harvest in the East Indian island 
of Buro, each clan {/enna) meets at a common sacramental 
meal, to which every member of the clan is bound to contribute 
a little of the new rice. This meal is called " eating the soul 
of the rice," a name which clearly indicates the sacramental 
character of the repast. Some of the rice is also set apart 
and offered to the spirits.^ Amongst the Alfoors of Minahassa 
the priest sows the first rice-seed and plucks the first ripe 

^ Communicated by the Rev. J. J. 
C. Yarborough, of Chislehurst, Kent 
See Folk'hrtjourfuil^ vii. ( 1 889), p. 50. 

* Von Haxthausen, Studien iiber die 
intum Zusiande^ das VolksUben und 
insbesondere die Idndlkhe Einricht- 
ungcn Kmslands^ L 448 sq, 


' Georgi, Beschreibung aUer Naiion- 
en des Ruseiichen ReUkt^ p. 37. 

4 G. A. Wilken, *< Bijdiagen tot de 
kennis der Alfoeren van het eiland 
Boeroe,*' p. 26 {Verkandelingen van 
hei Batauiaasch Cenootschap van Kun- 
sten en Wetemckappen^ vol. xxxvi.). 




rice in each field. This rice he roasts and grinds into meal, 
and gives some of it to each of the household.^ Shortly 
before the rice -harvest in Bolang Mongondo, Celebes, an 
offering is made of a small pig or a fowl. Then the priest 
plucks a little rice, first on his own field and then on those 
of his neighbours. All the rice thus plucked by him he \ 
dries along with his own, and then gives it back to the 
respective owners, who have it ground and boiled. When it 
is boiled the women take it back, with an ^g, to the priest, * ^ 
who offers the egg in sacrifice and returns the rice to the { 
women. Of this rice every member of the family, down to 1 
the youngest child, must partake. After this ceremony r 
every one is free to get in his rice.^ Amongst the Burghers, 
a tribe of the Neilgherry Hills in Southern India, the first 
handful of seed is sown and the first sheaf reaped by a I 
Curumbar — a man of a different tribe, whom the Burghers 
regard as sorcerers. The grain contained in the first sheaf ■ 
^ is that day reduced to meal, made into cakes, and, being 
offered as a first-fruit oblation, is, together with the remainder 
of the sacrificed animal, partaken of by the Burgher and the 
whole of his family as the meat of a federal offering and 
sacrifice." • 

Amongst the Coorgs of Southern India the man who is 
to cut the first sheaf of rice at harvest is chosen by an 
astrologer. At sunset the whole household takes a hot 
bath and then goes to the rice-field, where the chosen 
reaper cuts an armful of rice with a new sickle, and distri- 
butes two or more stalks to all present. Then all return to 
the threshing-floor. A bundle of leaves is adorned with a 
stalk of rice and fastened to the post in the centre of the 
threshing-floor. Enough of the new rice is now threshed, 
cleaned, and ground to provide flour for the dough -cakes 
which each member of the household is to eat. Then they 
go to the door of the house, where the mistress washes 

* P. N. Wilken, " Bijdragen tot dc Bolaang Mongondou," Medidetl. v, «». 
kennis van de zeden en gewoonten der h, Nederl. Zendelinggenootschap^ xL 
Alfoeren in de Minahassa,*' Medfdeelin- (1867), p. 369 sq, 
gen van uege het Nedtrlanduhe Zen- * H. Harkness, Description of a 
delinggenootsckap^ vii. (1863), p. 197. Singular Aboriginal Rate inhabiting 

* N. P. Wilken en J. A. Schwarz, the Summit of the Neilgherry Hills 
*' Allerlei over het land en volk van (London, 1832), p. 56 sq. 



the feet of the sheaf- cutter, and presents to him, and 
after him to all the rest, a brass vessel full of milk, 
honey, and sugar, from which each person takes a draught. 
Next the man who cut the sheaf kneads a cake of rice- 
meal, plantains, milk, honey, seven new rice corns, seven 
pieces of cocoa-nut, and so on. Every one receives a little 
of this cake on an Ashvatha leaf, and eats it The cere- 
mony is then over and the sheaf-cutter mixes with the 
company. When he was engaged in cutting the rice no one 
might touch him.^ Among the Hindoos of Southern India 
the eating of the new rice is the occasion of a family festival 
called Pongol. The new rice is boiled in a new pot on a 
fire which is kindled at noon on the day when, according to 
Hindoo astrologers, the sun enters the tropic of Capricorn. 
The boiling of the pot is watched with great anxiety by the 
whole family, for as the milk boils, so will the coming year 
be. If the milk boils rapidly, the year will be prosperous ; 
but it will be the reverse if the milk boils slowly. Some of 
the new boiled rice is offered to the image of Ganesa ; then 
every one partakes of it.' At Gilgit, in the Hindoo Koosh, 
before wheat-harvest begins, a member of every household 
gathers a handful of ears of com secretly at dusk. A few 
of the ears are hung up over the door of the house, and the 
rest are roasted next morning, and eaten steeped in milk. 
The day is spent in rejoicings, and next morning the harvest 

The Chams of Binh-Thuan, in Indo-China, may not 
reap the rice-harvest until they have offered the first-fruits 
to Po-Nagar, the goddess of agriculture, and have consumed 
them sacramen tally. These first-fruits are gathered from 
certain sacred fields called Hamou-Klik-Laoa or "fields of 
secret tillage," which are both sown and reaped with peculiar 
ceremonies. Apparently the tilling of the earth is con- 
sidered a crime which must be perpetrated secretly and 
afterwards atoned for. On a lucky day in June, at the first 
cock-crow, two men lead the buffaloes and the plough to 

' Govcr, Folk - sopif^ of Southern . Southern India," Joum, A\ Asiatic 

India^ p. 105 /^^. ; Folk-lore Journal^ Society , N.S., v. (187 1), p. 91 sqq. 

vii (1889), p. 302 sgq, ' Biddulph, Tribes of the Hindoo 

* (iover, "The Pongol Festival in A'oosh, p. 103. 


the sacred field, round which they draw three furrows in 
profound silence and then retire. Afterwards at dawn the 
owner of the land comes lounging by, as if by the merest 
chance. At sight of the furrows he stops, pretends to be 
much surprised, and cries out, " Who has been secretly 
ploughing my field this night ? " Hastening home, he kills 
a kid or some fowls, cooks the victuals, and prepares five 
quids of betel, some candles, a fiask of oil, and lustral water 
of three different sorts. With these offerings and the ^ 

plough drawn by the buffaloes, he returns to the field, 
where he lights the candles and spreading out the victuals 
worships Po-Nagar and the other deities, saying : " I know 
not who has secretly ploughed my field this night. Pardon, 
ye gods, those who have done this wrong. Accept these 
offerings. Bless us. Suffer us to proceed with this work." 
Then, speaking in the name of the deities, he gives the 
reassuring answer, " All right. Plough away I " With the 
lustral water he washes or sprinkles the buffaloes, the yoke, 
and the plough. The oil serves to anoint the plough and | 
to pour libations on the ground. The five quids of betel 
are buried in the field. Thereupon the owner sows a hand- 
ful of rice on the three furrows that have been traced, and 
eats the victuals with his people. After all these rites have 
been duly performed, he may plough and sow his land as he 
likes. When the rice has grown high enough in this field 
" of secret tillage " to hide pigeons, offerings of ducks, eggfs, 
and fowls are made to the deities ; and fresh offerings, which 
generally consist of five plates of rice, two boiled fowls, a 
bottle of spirits, and five quids of betel, are made to Po- 
Nagar and the rest at the time when the rice is in bloom. 
Finally, when the rice in "the field of secret tillage" is 
ripe, it has to be reaped before any of the rest Offerings 
of food, such as boiled fowls, plates of rice, cakes, and so 
forth, are spread out on the field ; a candle is lit, and a 
priest or, in his absence, the owner prays to the guardian 
deities to come and partake of the food set before them. 
After that the owner of the land cuts three stalks of rice 
with a sickle in the middle of the field, then he cuts three 
handfuls at the side, and places the whole in a napkin. 
These are the first-fruits offered to Po-Nagar, the goddess of 



agriculture. On being taken home the rice from the three 
handfuls is husked, pounded in a mortar, and presented to 
the goddess with these words : " Taste, O goddess, these 
first-fruits which have just been reaped." This rice is after- 
wards eaten, while the straw and husks are burned. Having 
eaten the first-fruits of the rice, the owner takes the three 
stalks cut in the middle of the field, passes them through 
the smoke of the precious eagle-wood, and hangs them up 
in his house, where they remain till the next sowing-time 
comes round. The grain from these three stalks will form 
the seed of the three furrows in "the field of secret 
tillage." Not till these ceremonies have been performed is 
the proprietor at liberty to reap the rest of that field and all 
the others.* 

The ceremony of eating the new yams at Onitsha, on 
the Niger, is thus described : " Each headman brought out 
six yams, and cut down young branches of palm-leaves and 
placed them before his gate, roasted three of the yams, 
and got some kola-nuts and fish. After the yam is roasted, 
the LtbtUy or country doctor, takes the yam, scrapes it 
into a sort of meal, and divides it into halves ; he then 
takes one piece, and places it on the lips of the person who 
is going to eat the new yam. The eater then blows up 
the steam from the hot yam, and afterwards pokes the 
whole into his mouth, and says, ' I thank God for being 
permitted to eat the new yam ' ; he then begins to chew it 
heartily, with fish likewise." * Amongst the Caffres of Natal 
and Zululand, no one may eat of the new fruits till after a 
festival which marks the beginning of the Caffre year and 
falls at the end of December or the beginning of January. 
All the people assemble at the king's kraal, where they 
feast and dance. Before they separate the " dedication of 
the people " takes place. Various fruits of the earth, as 
com, mealies, and pumpkins, mixed with the flesh of a 
sacrificed animal and with " medicine," are boiled in great 
pots, and a little of this food is placed in each man's mouth 

* E. Aymonier, •* Lcs Tchames ei on the Banks of the Niger^ p. 287 sq, 

ledn religions,*' Jievtte de Fhistoire des Mr. Taylor's information is repeated in 

Religions^ xxiv. (1891), pp. 272- West African Countries and PcopUs^hy 

274. J. Africanus B. Horton (London, 1868), 

< Crowtber and Taylor, Thi Gospel p. 180 1^. 


by the king himself. After thus partaking of the sanctified 
fruits, a man is himself sanctified for the whole year, and 
may immediately get in his crops.^ It is believed that if any 
man were to partake of the new fruits before the festival, he . 
would die ; * if he were detected, he would be put to death, or \ 
at least all his cattle would be taken from him.' The holiness 
of the new fruits is well marked by the rule that they must be 
cooked in a special pot which is used only for this purpose. 

and on a new fire kindled by a magician through the friction . t 
of two sticks which are called ** husband and wife." These 
sticks are prepared by the sorcerers from the wood of the 
Uzwaii tree and belong exclusively to the chief. The " wife " 
is the shorter of the two. When the magician has kindled the 
new fire on which the new fruits are to be cooked, he hands 
the fire-sticks back to the chief, for no other hand may touch 
them ; and they are then put away till they are required 
next season. The sticks are regarded as in a measure 
sacred, and no one, except the chiefs personal servant, may 
go to the side of the hut where they are kept. No pot but 
the one used for the preparation of this feast may be set on 
a fire made by the friction of the "husband and wife." 
When the feast is over, the fire is carefully extinguished, 
and the pot is put away with the fire-sticks, where it \ 
remains untouched for another year.* A remarkable feature | 
of the festival, as it is observed at the court of the Zulu 
king, is a dance performed by the king himself in a mantle 
of g^rass or, according to another account, of herbs and corn- 
leaves. This mantle is afterwards burnt and its ashes are 
scattered and trodden into the ground by cattle.* Further, 
it is worthy of notice that the festival is described as a 
saturnalia, and we are told that '' a great deal of noise and 
dancing goes on, and people are not supposed to be 
responsible for what they say or do."* Thus, for example, 
among the Pondos the festival includes a period of license, 

^ F. Speckmann, Die Hermanns' System cf the A matulu, i^, 2!^g noit,- 
burger A fission in Afrika (Hermanns- ^ J. Macdonald, Light in AfricOy p. 

^cg* lS76)t p. 150 i^. 216 sq. 

* L. Grout, Ztf/i/-/aif</( Philadelphia, * J. Shooter, The Kafirs 0/ Natal, 

N.D.), p. 161. p. 27 : N. Isaacs, Travels and A dven- 

' South African Folk-lore Journal^ tures in Eastern Africa, ii. 293. 
i. (1879), p. 135 ; Callaway, Religious * J. Macdonald, op, cit. p. 189. 


during the continuance of which the chief abdicates his 
functions and any crime may be committed with impunity. 
The description of the Pondo festival comprises so 
many interesting features that I will reproduce it entire. 
" When a Pondo chief is to hold the feast of first-fruits, 
some of his people procure a ripe plant of the gourd 
family, pumpkin or calabash, from another tribe. This is 
cooked ; the inside cleaned out, and the rind made ready for 
use as a vessel. It is then presented to the chief with 
much ceremony. The first-fruits are now brought forward, 
and a sacrifice, generally a young bull, is offered, after which 
the feast commences. The chief issues certain orders for 
the conduct of the proceedings, tastes the fruits which are 
served in the gourd-dish with which he has been presented, 
and then abdicates all his functions while the festival lasts. 
The cattle from all the neighbouring villages are collected 
in the vicinity, and now they are brought together, and the 
bulls incited to fight to determine which is to be king 
among them for the next year. The young people engage 
in games and dances, feats of strength and running. After 
these are over the whole community give themselves over to 
disorder, debauchery, and riot In their bull -fights and 
games they but did honour to the powers of nature, and now, 
as they eat and drink, the same powers are honoured in 
another form and by other rites. There is no one in author- 
ity to keep order, and every man does what seems good in 
his own eyes. Should a man stab his neighbour he escapes 
all punishment, and so too with all other crimes against the 
person, property, and morality. People are even permitted 
to abuse the chief to his face, an offence which at any other 
time would meet with summary vengeance and an uncere- 
monious dispatch to join the ancestors. While the feast 
continues, a deafening noise is kept up by drumming, shout- 
ing, hand-clapping, and every kind of instrument that can be 
made to emit sound. Men advance to the chief and ex- 
plain their origin, and also the object they hold sacred, by 
imitating the sounds and movements of their most sacred 
animal. This is the person's totem. Others imitate the 
gurgling made by an enemy when stabbed in the throat. 
Those who adopt this latter emblem are known as ' children 




of the spear/ When the ceremonies, revels, and mummeries 
are ended, the chief repairs to his accustomed place, and 
sitting down there, by that act resumes his kingly functions. 
He calls the bravest of his braves before him, who is 
immediately clothed and decorated with skins of animals 
suggestive of courage and strategy. He performs a dance 
amid the frenzied shouting of the multitude, after which the 
chief declares the festival at an end and harvest com- 
menced." ^ Another writer, speaking of the Zulu festival of 
first-fruits as it was celebrated in the time of the ferocious 
despot Chaka, says that '' at this period the chiefs are allowed 
to converse unreservedly with the king, speaking with great 
freedom, and in some measure to be dictatorial."* Such 
liberties taken with the despotic Zulu king seem to point to 
a time when he too, like the Pondo chiefs, abdicated or was 
deposed during the festival. Perhaps we may even go a 
step further. We have seen that on this occasion the Zulu 
king dances in a mantle of g^ss or of herbs and corn- 
leaves, which is afterwards burnt and the ashes scattered 
and trodden into the ground. This custom seems clearly 
intended to promote the fertility of the earth, and in earlier 
times the same end may have been compassed by burning 
the king himself and dispersing his ashes ; for we have seen 
that a Bechuana tribe, of the same Bantu stock as the 
Zulus, were wont to sacrifice a human victim for the good 
of the crops and to scatter his ashes over the ground.' 
In this connection it should be borne in mind that we have 
found independent evidence of a custom of putting the 
Zulu king to death whenever his bodily strength began to 



1 J. Macdonaid, Religion atid Myth^ 
pp. 1 36- 1 38, from manuscript notes 
furnished by J. Sutton. Mr. Mac- 
donald has described the custom more 
briefly in his Light in Africa^ p. 189. 

* N. Isaacs, Tratth and Adi'entura 
in Eastern Africa, ii. 292. 

' Above, p. 239 sq, 

^ Above, p. 9 sg. On the Zulu 
festival of first-fruits see also Arbousset 
et Daumas, Voyage d* Exploration^ p. 
308 sq, ; G. Fritsch, Die Eingehorenen 
Siid'Afrikas, p. 143. Fritsch mentions 

that after executing a grotesque dance 
in the presence of the assembled multi- 
tude the king gives formal permission 
to eat of the new fruits by dashing a 
gourd or calabash to the ground. This 
ceremony of breaking the calabash is 
mentioned also by Shooter {Kafirs of 
Natal, p. 27) and Grout {Zulu-land, p. 
162). According to this last writer, 
a bull is killed and its gall drunk by 
the king and the people. In killing 
it the warriors must use nothing but 
their naked hands. The flesh of the 




Amongst the Creek Indians of North America, the busk 
or festival of first-fruits was the chief ceremony of the ycar.^ 
It was held in July or August, when the corn was ripe, and 
marked the end of the old year and the beginning of the 
new one. Before it took place, none of the Indians would 
eat or even handle any part of the new harvest. Some- 
times each town had its own busk ; sometimes several towns 
united to hold one in common. Before celebrating the 
busk, the people provided themselves with new clothes and 
new household utensils and furniture ; they collected their 
old clothes and rubbish, together with all the remaining 
grain and other old prdvisions, cast them together in one 
common heap, and consumed them with fire.* As a prepara- 
tion for the ceremony, all the fires in the village were extin- 
guished, and the ashes swept clean away. In particular, 
the hearth or altar of the temple was dug up and the ashes 
carried out. Then the chief priest put some roots of the 

bull is given to the boys to eat what 
they like and burn the rest ; the men 
may not taste it. See Grout, op, ctt, 
p. 161. According to Shooter, two 
bulls are killed ; the first is black, the 
second of another colour. The boys 
who eat the beef of the black bull may 
not drink till the next morning, else 
the king would be defeated in war or 
visited with some personal misfortune. 
See Shooter, op cit. p. 26 sq. Accord- 
ing to another account the sacrifice of 
the bull, performed by the warriors of 
a particular regiment with their bare 
hands, takes place several weeks before 
the festival of first-fruits, and "the 
strength of the bull is supposed to 
enter into the king, thereby prolong- 
ing his health and strength." See 
D. Leslie, Amot9g thf Zulus and 
Amaiongasf P* 9i- As to the fes- 
tival of first-fruits among the Mata- 
beles, a Zulu people, see L. Decle, 
T%ree Years in Savage Africa^ p. 157 

^ The ceremony is described inde- 
pendently by James Adair, History of 
the American Indians (London, 1775), 
pp. 96 - 1 1 1 ; \V. Bartram, Traitls 
through North ami South Carolina^ 
Georgia^ East and West Florida (Lon- 

don, 1792), p. 507 sq,\ B. Hawkins, 
"Sketch of the Creek country," in 
Collections of the Georgia Historical 
Society, iii. (Savannah, 1848), pp. 75- 
78 ; A. A. M*Gillivray, in School- 
craft's Indian Tribes, v. 267 sq, 
Adair's description is the fullest and 
has been chiefly followed in the text 
In Observations on the Creeh and 
Cherokee IncUans, by William Bartram 
( 1 789), with prefatory eutd supplement- 
ary notes, by E. G. Squier, p. 75, 
there is a description — extracted from 
an MS. of J. H. Payne (author of 
Ho/ne^ Sweet Home) — of the similar 
ceremony obserA'ed by the Cherokees. 
I possess a copy of this work in 
pamphlet form, but it appears to be 
an extract from the transactions or 
proceedings of a society, probably an 
American one. Mr. Squier's preface 
is dated New York, 1 8 5 1 . The Indians 
of Alabama also held a great festi\*al at 
their harvest in July. They passed 
the day fasting, lit a new fire, puiged 
themselves, and ofiered the first-fruits 
to their Manitoo : the ceremony ended 
with a religious dance. See Bossu, 
Nouveaux Voyages aux Indes occiden- 
tales (Paris, 1768), ii. 54. 

' \V. Bartram, Travels, p. 507. 



button-snake plant, with some green tobacco leaves and a 
little of the new fruits, at the bottom of the fireplace, which 
he afterwards commanded to be covered up with white clay, 
and wetted over with clean water. A thick arbour of green 
branches of young trees was then made over the altar.^ 
Meanwhile the women at home were cleaning out their 
houses, renewing the old hearths, and scouring all the cook- 
ing vessels that they might be ready to receive the new fire 
and the new fruits.* The public or sacred square was care- \ 
fully swept of even the smallest crumbs of previous feasts, 
" for fear of polluting the first-fruit offerings." Also every 
vessel that had contained or had been used about any food 
during the expiring year was removed from the temple 
before sunset. Then all the men who were not known to 
have violated the law of the first-fruit offering and that of 
marriage during the year were summoned by a crier to 
enter the holy square and observe a solemn fast. But the 
women (except six old ones), the children, and all who had 
not attained the rank of warriors were forbidden to enter 
the square. Sentinels were also posted at the comers of the 
square to keep out all persons deemed impure and all 
animals. A strict fast was then observed for two nights 
and a day, the devotees drinking a bitter decoction of 
button-snake root " in order to vomit and purge their sinful 
bodies." That the people outside the square might also be 
purified, one of the old men laid down a quantity of green 
tobacco at a comer of the square ; this was carried off" by 
an old woman and distributed to the people without, who 
chewed and swallowed it "in order to afflict their souls." 
During this general fast, the women, children, and men of 
weak constitution were allowed to eat after mid-day, but not 
before. On the morning when the fast ended, the women 
brought a quantity of the old year's food to the outside of 
the sacred square. These provisions were then brought in 
and set before the famished multitude, but all traces of them 

^ So amongst the Cherokees, accord- sacred square. Every man then pro- 

iDg to J. H. Payne, an arbour of green vided himself with a green bough." 
boughs was made in the sacred square ; ' So Adair. Bartram, on the other 

then *< a lieautiful bushy-topped shade- hand, as we have seen, says that the 

tree was cut down close to the roots, old vessels were burned and new ones 

and planted in the very centre of the prepared for the festival. 


had to be removed before noon. When the sun was declin- 
{ ing from the meridian, all the people were commanded by 
the voice of a crier to stay within doors, to do no bad act, 
: and to be sure to extinguish and throw away every spark of 
j the old fire. Universal silence now reigned. Then the 
: high priest made the new fire by the friction of two pieces of 
I wood, and placed it on the altar under the green arbour. 
This new fire was believed to atone for all past crimes 
except murder. Next a basket of new fruits was brought ; 
the high priest took out a little of each sort of fruit, rubbed 
it with bear's oil, and offered it, together with some flesh, 
" to the bountiful holy spirit of fire, as a first-fruit offering, 
and an annual oblation for sin." He also consecrated the 
sacred emetics (the button-snake root' and the cassina or 
black-drink) by pouring a little of them into the fire. The 
persons who had remained outside now approached, without 
entering, the sacred square ; and the chief priest thereupon 
made a speech, exhorting the people to observe their old 
rites and customs, announcing that the new divine fire had 
purged away the sins of the past year, and earnestly warn- 
ing the women that, if any of them had not extinguished 
the old fire, or had contracted any impurity, they must 
forthwith depart, " lest the divine, fire should spoil both them 
and the people." Some of the new fire was then set down 
outside the holy square ; the women carried it home joy- 
fully, and laid it on their unpolluted hearths. When several 
towns had united to celebrate the festival, the new fire 
might thus be carried for several miles. The new fruits 
were then dressed on the new fires and eaten with bear's oil, 
which was deemed indispensable. At one point of the 
festival the men rubbed the new corn between their hands, 
then on their faces and breasts.^ During the festival which 
followed, the warriors, dressed in their wild martial array, 
their heads covered with white down and carrying white 
feathers in their hands, danced round the sacred arbour, 
under which burned the new fire. The ceremonies lasted 
eight days, during which the strictest continence was prac- 
tised. Towards thie conclusion of the festival the warriors 
fought a mock battle ; then the men and women together, 

> R Hawkins, "Sketch," etc., p. 76. 


in three circles, danced round the sacred fire. Lastly, all 
the people smeared themselves with white clay and bathed 
in running water. They came out of the water believing 
that no evil could now befall them for what they had done 
amiss in the past. So they departed in joy and peace. 

To this day the remnant of the Seminole Indians of 
Florida, a people of the same stock as the Creeks,^ hold an 
annual purification and festival called the Green Corn Dance, 
at which the new corn is eaten. On the evening of the first ^ 

day of the festival they quafT a nauseous " Black Drink," as 
it is called, which acts both as an emetic and a purgative ; 
they believe that he who does not drink of this liquor cannot 
safely eat the new green com, and besides that he will be 
sick at some time in the year. While the liquor is being 
drunk, the dancing begins, and the medicine-men join in it 
Next day they eat of the green corn ; the following day 
they fast, probably from fear of polluting the sacred food in \ 
their stomachs by contact with common food ; but the third j 
day they hold a great feast.* Further, the Natchez Indians, i 
another tribe of the same stock, who used to inhabit a dis- 
trict on the lower course and eastern bank of the Mississippi, j 
ate the new com sacramentally at a great festival which has ! 
been fully described by Du Pratz, the French historian of 
Louisiana. As his work is probably not easily accessible to 
many of my readers, I shall perhaps consult their conveni- 
ence by extracting his description entire. The Natchez, he 
tells us, began their year in March and divided it into 
thirteen moons. Their sixth moon, which answered to our 
August, was the Mulberry Moon, and the seventh was the 
moon of Maize or Great Com. " This feast is beyond dis- 
pute the most solemn of all. It principally consists in 
eating in common, and in a religious manner, of new com, 
which had been sown expressly with that design, with suit- 
able ceremonies. This corn is sown upon a spot of ground 
never before cultivated ; which ground is dressed and pre- 
pared by the warriors alone, who also are the only persons 
that sow the corn, weed it, reap it, and gather it When 

* Waitz, Anthropologic dir Natur- of Florida," Fifth Annual Report of 
vblker^ iii. 42. the Bureau of Ethnology (Washington, 

' C. MacGiuIey, " Seminole Indians 1887), p. 522 sq. 



this corn is near ripe, the warriors fix on a place proper for 
the general feast, and close adjoining to that they form a 
round granary, the bottom and sides of which are of cane ; 
this they fill with the corn, and when they have finished the 
harvest, and covered the granary, they acquaint the Great 
Sun,^ who appoints the day for the general feast. Some 
days before the feast, they build huts for the Great Sun, and 
for all the other families, round the granary, that of the 
Great Sun being raised upon a mound of earth about two 
feet high. On the feast-day the whole nation set out from 
their village at sun-rising, leaving behind only the aged and 
infirm that are not able to travel, and a few warriors, who 
are to carry the Great Sun on a litter upon their shoulders. 
The seat of this litter is covered with several deer-skins, and 
to its four sides are fastened four bars which cross each other, 
and are supported by eight men, who at every hundred paces 
transfer their burden to eight other men, and thus successively 
transport it to the place where the feast is celebrated, which 
may be near two miles from the village. About nine o'clock 
the Great Sun comes out of his hut dressed in the ornaments 
of his dignity, and being placed in his litter, which has a 
canopy at the head formed of flowers, he is carried in a few 
minutes to the sacred granary, shouts of joy re-echoing on 
all sides. Before he alights he makes the tour of the whole 
place deliberately, and when he comes before the com, he 
salutes it thrice with the words, lioo^ hoOy lioo^ lengthened and 
pronounced respectfully. The salutation is repeated by the 
whole nation, who pronounce the word liao nine times dis- 
tinctly, and at the ninth time he alights and places himself 
on his throne. 

" Immediately after they light a fire by rubbing two 
pieces of wood violently against each other, and when every- 
thing is prepared for dressing the corn, the chief of war, 
accompanied by the warriors belonging to each family, pre- 
sents himself before the throne, and addresses the Sun in 
these words, * Speak, for I hear thee.' The sovereign then 
rises up, bows towards the four quarters of the world, and 

^ That IS, the grand chief of the bore on his breast an image of the 

nation. All the chiefs of the Natchez sun and claimed to be descended from 

were called Suns and were connected the luminary. See Bossu, Nottveatix 

with the head chief or Great Sun, who Voyages aux Indes occidetiiaUs, i. 42. 


advancing to the granary, lifts his eyes and hands to heaven, 
and says, * Give us corn ' : upon which the great chief of 
war, the princes and princesses, and all the men, thank him 
separately by pronouncing the word hoo. The corn is then 
distributed, first to the female Suns, and then to all the 
women, who run with it to their huts, and dress it with the 
utmost dispatch. When the com is dressed in all the huts, \ 
a plate of it is put into the hands of the Great Sun, who 
presents it to the four quarters of the world, and then says | \ 
to the chief of war, * Eat ' ; upon this signal all the warriors 
begin to eat in all the huts ; after them the boys of whatever | 
age, excepting those who are on the breast ; and last of all [ 
the women. When the warriors have finished their repast, \ 
they form themselves into two choirs before the huts, and \ 
sing war-songs for half an hour ; after which the chief of j 
war, and all the warriors in succession, recount their brave j 
exploits, and mention, in a boasting manner, the number of 
enemies they have slain. The youths are next allowed to 
harangue, and each tells in the best manner he can, not what 
he has done, but what he intends to do ; and if his discourse 
merits approbation, he is answered by a general hoc ; if not, 
the warriors hang down their heads and are silent 

" This great solemnity is concluded with a general dance 
by torch-light Upwards of two hundred torches of dried 
canes, each of the thickness of a child, are lighted round the 
place, where the men and women often continue dancing till * 
day-light ; and the following is the disposition of their dance. 
A man places himself on the ground with a pot covered with 
a deer-skin, in the manner of a drum, to beat time to the 
dancers ; round him the women form themselves into a circle, 
not joining hands, but at some distance from each other ; 
and they are inclosed by the men in another circle, who 
have in each hand a chichicois, or calabash, with a stick 
thrust through it to serve for a handle. When the dance 
begins, the women move round the men in the centre, from 
left to right, and the men contrariwise from right to left, and 
they sometimes narrow and sometimes widen their circles. 
In this manner the dance continues without intermission the 
whole night, new performers successively taking the place of 
those who are wearied and fatigued. 




"Next morning no person is seen abroad before the 
Great Sun comes out of his hut, which is generally about 
nine o'clock, and then upon a signal made by the drum, the 
warriors make their appearance distinguished into two troops, 
by the feathers which they wear on their heads. One of 
these troops is headed by the Great Sun, and the other by 
the chief of war, who begin a new diversion by tossing a 
ball of deer-skin stuffed with Spanish beard from the one to 
the other. The warriors quickly take part in the sport, and 
a violent contest ensues which of the" two parties shall drive 
the ball to the hut of the opposite chief. The diversion 
generally lasts two hours, and the victors are allowed to 
wear the feathers of superiority till the following year, or till 
the next time they play at the ball. After this the warriors 
perform the war dance ; and last of all they go and bathe ; 
an exercise which they are very fond of when they are 
heated or fatigued. 

" The rest of that day is employed as the preceding ; for 
the feast holds as long as any of the com remains. When 
it is all eat up, the Great Sun is carried back in his litter, 
and they all return to the village, after which he sends the 
warriors to hunt both for themselves and him." ^ 

In the foregoing customs the solemn preparation for 
eating of the new fruits, taken together uith the danger 
supposed to be incurred by persons who partake of them 
without observing the prescribed ritual, suffices to prove that 
the new fruits are regarded as instinct with a divine virtue, 
and consequently that the eating of them is a sacrament or 
communion. Nothing, perhaps, brings this out so clearly 
as the Creek and Seminole practice of taking a purgative 
before swallowing the new corn. The intention is thereby 
to prevent the sacred food from being polluted by contact 

^ Da PraUf History of Louisiana^ 
or tftk$ western parts of Virginia and 
Carolina^ translated from the French, 
New Edition (London, 1784), pp. 338- 
341. On the festival of first-fruits 
among the Natchez see also Lettres 
idifianiis et curimust vii. 19 ; Charle- 
voix, Histoire de la Notivelle France^ 
vi. 183; De Tonti, ** Relation de la 
Louisiane et du Mississippi," Kecueil 
de yoyagts au Nord^ v. 122 (Amsterdam 

edition); Le Petit, "Relation des 
Natchez," ibid ix. 13 sq. (reprint of 
the account in the Lettres idifiantes 
cited above) ; Bossu, Notweaux Voyages 
aux Indes occidentaUs^ i. 43. Accord- 
ing to Charlevoix, Le Petit, and Bossu 
the festival fell in July. For Chateau- 
briand's description of the custom, sec 
Note C, "Offerings of First-fruits," at 
the end of this volume. 




with common food in the stomach of the eater. For the 
same reason Catholics partake of the Eucharist fasting ; and 
among the pastoral Masai of Eastern Africa the young 
warriors, who live on meat and milk exclusively, are obliged 
to eat nothing but milk for so many days and then nothing 
but meat for so many more, and before they pass from the 
one food to the other they must make sure that none of the 
old food remains in their stomachs ; this they do by 
swallowing a very powerful purgative and emetic.^ Among 
the Wataturu, another people of Eastern Africa akin to 
the Masai, a warrior who had eaten antilope's flesh might 
not drink of milk on the same day.^ Similarly among the 
Central Esquimaux the rules prohibiting conta,ct between 
venison and the flesh of marine animals are very strict 
The Esquimaux themselves say that the goddess Sedna 
dislikes the deer, and therefore they may not bring that 
animal into contact with her favourites, the sea beasts. 
Hence the meat of the whale, the seal, or the walrus may 
not be eaten on the same day with venison. Both sorts of 
meat may not even lie on the floor of the hut or behind the 
lamps at the same time. If a man who has eaten venison 
in the morning happens to enter a hut in which the flesh of 
seal is being cooked, he is allowed to eat venison on the 
bed, but it must be wrapt up before being carried into the 
hut, and he must take care to keep clear of the floor. Before 
changing from one food to the other the Esquimaux must 
wash themselves." Again, just as the Esquimaux think that 
their goddess would be offended if venison met seal or whale 
or walrus meat in the eater's stomach, so the Melanesians of 
Florida, one of the Solomon Islands, believe that if a man 
who has eaten pork or fish or shell-fish or the flesh of a 
certain sort of cuscus were to enter a garden immediately 

^ Joseph Thomson, Through Masai 
Land, p. 430 ; P. Reichard, Deuisch- 
Ostafrika (Leipsic, 1892), p. 288; 
O. Baumann, Durch Massailand zur 
Ni /quelle (Berlin, 1894), p. 162. Ac- 
cording to Reichard the warriors may 
partake of honey both with meat and 
with milk. Thomson does nut men- 
tion honey and speaks of a pur(;ative 
only. The periods during which meat 
and milk are alternately consumed 

vary, according to Reichard, from 
twelve to fifteen dajrs. We may coto- 
jecture, therefore, that two of them, 
making up a complete cycle, correspond 
to a lunar month, with reference to 
which the diet is perhaps determined. 

* O. Baumann,^. cit. p. 171. 

3 Fr. Boas, "The Central Eskimo," 
Sixth Annual Report of the Bureau 
of Ethnology (Washington, 1888), p. 

J \ 


\ afterwards, the ghosts who preside over the garden and 
cause the fruits to grow would be angry and the crop would 
consequently suffer ; but three or four days after partaking 
of such victuals, when the food has quite left his stoniach, 
he may enter the garden without offence to the ghosts or 
injury to the crop.^ In like manner the ancient Greeks, of 
whose intellectual kinship with savages like the Esquimaux 
and the Melanesians we haye already met with many proofs, 
laid it down as a rule that a man who had partaken of the 
flesh offered to Pelops at Olympia might not enter into the 
temple of Zeus, and that persons who had sacrificed to 
Telephus at Pergamus might not go up to the temple of 
Aesculapius until they had washed themselves,^ just as the 
Esquimaux who have eaten venison must wash before they 
may partake of seal or whale or walrus meat 

In some of the festivals which we have examined, as 
in the Buro, Cheremiss, Cham, and Creek ceremonies, the 
sacrament of first-fruits is combined with a sacrifice, and in 
course of time the sacrifice of first-fruits tends to throw the 
sacrament into the shade, if not to supersede it The mere 
fact of offering the first-fruits to the gods or ancestral spirits 
comes now to be thought a sufficient preparation for eating the 
new com ; the gods having received their share, man is free 
to enjoy the rest. This mode of viewing the new fruits 
implies that they are regarded no longer as themselves 
instinct with divine life, but merely as a gift bestowed by 
the gods upon man, who is bound to express his gratitude 
and homage to his divine benefattors by returning to them 
a portion of their bounty. But with sacrifice, as distinct from 
sacrament, we are not here concerned.' 

The custom of eating bread sacramentally as the body 
of a god was practised by the Aztecs before the discovery 
and conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards. Twice a year, 
in May and December, an image of the great Mexican god 
Huitzilopochtli or Vitzilipuztli was made of dough, then 
broken in pieces, and solemnly eaten by his worshippers. 

* R. H. Codrin£;ton, The Melon' sacrificed to Pelops partook of the 

esiems^ p. 134. sacrifice. 

^ Pansanias, v. 13. 3. We may 

assume, though Pkusanias does not ' See Note C, " Oflferings of First- 

expressly say so, that persons who fruits," at the end of the volume. 



The May ceremony is thus described by the historian Acosta. 
" Two days before this feast, the virgins whereof I have 
spoken (the which were shut up and secluded in the same 
temple and were as it were religious women) did mingle a 
quantity of the seed of beets with roasted maize, and then 
they did mould it with honey, making an idol of that paste 
in big^esis like to that of wood, putting instead of eyes 
grains of green glass, of blue or white ; and for teeth grains 
of maize set forth with all the ornament and furniture that 
I have said. This being finished, all the noblemen came 
and brought it an exquisite and rich garment, like unto 
that of the idol, wherewith they did attire it. Being thus 
clad and deckt, they did set it in an azure chair and in a 
litter to carry it on their shoulders. The morning of this 
feast being come, an hour before day all the maidens came 
forth attired in white, with new ornaments, the which that 
day were called the Sisters of their god Vitzilipuztli, they 
came crowned with garlands of maize roasted and parched, 
being like unto azahar or thp flower of orange ; and about 
their necks they had great chains of the same, which went 
bauldrickwise under their left arm. Their cheeks were dyed 
with vermilion, their arms from the elbow to the wrist were 
covered with red parrots' feathers." Young men, dressed in 
red robes and crowned like the virg^ins with maize, then 
carried the idol in its litter to the foot of the great pyramid- 
shaped temple, up the steep and narrow steps of which it 
was drawn to the music of flutes, trumpets, comets, and 
drums. " While they mounted up the idol all the people 
stood in the court with much reverence and fear. Being 
mounted to the top, and that they had placed it in a little 
lodge of roses which they held ready, presently came the 
young men, which strewed many flowers of sundry kinds, 
wherewith they filled the temple both within and without. 
This done, all the virgins came out of their convent, bringing 
pieces of paste compounded of beets and roasted maize, 
which was of the same paste whereof their idol was made 
and compounded, and they were of the fashion of great 
bones. They delivered them to the young men, who carried 
them up and laid them at the idol's feet, wherewith they 
filled the whole place that it could receive no more. They 





called these morsels of paste the flesh and bones of Vitzili- 
puztli. Having laid abroad these bones, presently came all 
the ancients of the temple, priests, Levites, and all the rest 
of the ministers, according to their dignities and antiquities 
(for herein there was a strict order amongst them) one after 
another, with their veils of diverse colours and works, every 
one according to his dignity and office, having garlands 
upon their heads and chains of flowers about their necks ; 
after them came their gods and goddesses whom they 
worshipt, of diverse figures, attired in the same livery ; then 
putting themselves in order about those morsels and pieces 
of paste, they used certain ceremonies with singing and 
dancing. By means whereof they were blessed and conse- 
crated for the flesh and bones of this idol. This ceremony 
and blessing (whereby they were taken for the flesh and 
bones of the idol) being ended, they honoured those pieces in 
the same sort as their god. 

" Then came forth the sacrificers, who began the sacrifice 
of men in the manner as hath been spoken, and that day 
they did sacrifice a greater number than • at any other time, 
for that it was the most solemn feast they observed. The 
sacrifices being ended, all the young men and maids came 
out of the temple attired as before, and being placed in 
order and rank, one directly against another, they danced 
by drums, the which sounded in praise of the feast, and of 
the idol which they did celebrate. To which song all the 
most ancient and greatest noblemen did answer dancing 
about them, making a great circle, as their use is, the young 
men and maids remaining always in the midst All the 
city came to this goodly spectacle, and there was a com- 
mandment very strictly observed throughout all the land, that 
the day of the feast of the idol of Vitzilipuztli they should 
eat no other meat but this paste, with honey, whereof the 
idol was made. And this should be eaten at the point of 
day, and they should drink no water nor any other thing 
till after noon : they held it for an ill sig^n, yea, for sacrilege 
to do the contrary : but after the ceremonies ended, it was 
lawful for them to eat anything. During the time of this 
ceremony they hid the water from their little children, 
admonishing all such as had the use of reason not to drink 


any water ; which, if they did, the anger of Gcxl would come 
upon them, and they should die, which they did observe 
very carefully and strictly. The ceremonies, dancing, \ 
and sacrifice ended, they went to unclothe themselves, and k 
the priests and superiors of the temple took the idol of t 
paste, which they spoiled of all the ornaments it had, and \ 
made many pieces, as well of the idol itself as of the ' 
truncheons which were consecrated, and then they gave ; 
them to the people in manner of a communion, b^inning ^ 
with the greater, and continuing unto the rest, both men, 
women, and little children, who received it with such 
tears, fear, and reverence as it was an admirable thing, say- 
ing that they did eat the flesh and bones of God, wherewith 
they were grieved* Such as had any sick folks demanded } 
thereof for them, and carried it with great reverence and ! 
veneration." ^ ! 

After the explanation which has been gfiven of the 
reason why the Creek and Seminole Indians cleanse their j 
bodies with a purgative before they partake of the sacra- | 
ment of first-fruits, the reader will have no difficulty in 
understanding why on the day of their solemn communion 
with the deity the Mexicans refused to eat any other food 
than the consecrated bread which they revered as the very 
flesh and bones of their God, and why up till noon they 
might drink nothing at all, not even water. They feared to 
defile the portion of God in their stomachs by contact with 
common things. We can now also conjecture the reason 
why Zulu boys, after eating the flesh of the black bull at the 
feast of first-fruits, are forbidden to drink anything till the 
next day.* 

At the festival of the winter solstice in December the 
Aztecs killed their god Huitzilopochtli in efligy first and 
ate him afterwards. As a preparation for this solemn 
ceremony an image of the deity in the likeness of a man was 
fashioned out of seeds of various sorts, which were kneaded 
into a dough with the blood of children. The bones of the 

* Acosta, Natural and Moral His- lowed by Herrera {General History 

tory of thi Indies^ bk. y. ch. 24, voL ii. of the vast Continent and Islands of 

pp. 356-360 (Hakluyt Society, 1880). America^ trans, by Stevens, iiL 213- 

I have niodemised the old translator's 215). 
q>eUuig. Acosta*s description is Ibl- ' Above, p. 329 note. 





god were represented by pieces of acacia wood. This image 
was placed on the chief altar of the temple, and on the day 
of the festival the king offered incense to it Early next day 
it was taken down and set on its feet in a great hall. Then 
a priest, who bore the name and acted the part of the god 
Quetzalcoatl, took a flint-tipped dart and hurled it into the 
breast of the dough-image, piercing it through and through. 
This was called " killing the god Huitzilopochtli so that his 
body might be eaten." One of the priests cut out the heart 
of the image and gave it to the king to eat. The rest of 
the image was divided into minute pieces, of which every man 
great and small, down to the male children in the cradle, 
received one to eat But no woman might taste a morsel. 
The ceremony was called teoqualo^ that is, " god is eaten." ^ 

At another festival the Mexicans made little images like 
men, which stood for the cloud-capped mountains. These 
images were moulded of a paste of various seeds and were 
dressed in paper ornaments. Some people fashioned five, 
others ten, others as many as fifteen of them. Having been 
made, they were placed in the oratory of each house and 
worshipped. Four times in the course of the night offerings 
of food were brought to them in tiny vessels ; and people 
sang and played the flute before them through all the 
hours of darkness. At break of day the priests stabbed 
the images with a weaver's instrument, cut off their heads, 
and tore out their hearts, which they presented to the 
master of the house on a green saucer. The bodies of the 
images were then eaten by all the family, especially by the 
servants, " in order that by eating them they might be pre- 
served from certain distempers, to which those persons who 
were negligent of worship to those deities conceived them- 
selves to be subject"' In some cities of Mexico, as in 

1 Bancroft, Nativt Rata of th* 
Pacifie States^ iii. 297-300 (after Tor- 
quemada); Oavjgero, History of 
AUxicOt trans, bjr CuIIen, L 309 sqq. ; 
Sahagun, Histoiro ghUraie des cious 
d§ la NotiveiU'Espagne^ traduiie et 
annot^ par Jourdanet et Sim^n 
(Paris, 1880), p. 203 sq, ; J. G. MuUer, 
Gtukichto der antfHkafuschen Ur^ 
ftligiomn^ p. 605 ; Brasseur de 

Bourbourg, ffistoin des Nations 
civilisits dsi Mexique et de FAmMque 
Centrales iii. 531-534. 

' Clavigero, i. 311; Sahagun, pp. 
74,1564^.; Muller, p. 606; Bancroft, 
iii. 316; Brasseur de Bonrbourg, 
iii. 535. This festival took place on 
the last day of the i6th month (which 
extended from 23rd December to nth 
January). At another festival the 




Tlacopan and Coyohuacan, an idol was fashioned out of 
grains of various kinds, and the warriors ate it in the belief 
that the sacred food would increase their forces fourfold 
when they marched to the fight* At certain festivals held 
thrice a year in Nicaragua all the men, beginning with the 
priests and chiefs, drew blood from their tongues and genital 
organs with sharp knives of flint, allowed it to drip on some 
sheaves of maize, and then ate the bloody grain as a blessed 

But the Mexicans did not always content themselves 
with eating their gods in the outward and visible shape of 
bread or grain ; it was not even enough that this material 
'vehicle of the divine life should be kneaded and fortified 
with human blood. They craved, as it seems, after a closer 
union with the living god, and attained it by devouring the 
flesh of a real man, who, after he had paraded for a time in 
the trappings and received the honours of a god, was 
slaughtered and eaten by his cannibal worshippers. The 
deity thus consumed in effigy was Tetzcatlipoca, and the 
man chosen to represent him and die in his stead was a 
young captive of handsome person and illustrious birth. 
During his captivity the youth thus doomed to play the 
fatal part of divinity was allowed to range the streets of 
Mexico freely, escorted by a distinguished train, who paid 
him as much respect as if he had been indeed the god him- 
self instead of only his living image. Twenty days before 
the festival at which the tragic mockery was to end, that he 
might taste all the joys of this transient world to which he 
must soon bid farewell, he received in marriage four women, 
from whom he parted only when he took his place in the last 
solemn procession. Arrived at the foot of the sacred pyramid 
on the top of which he was to die, the sacrificers saluted 
him and led him up the long staircase. On the summit 
five of them seized him and held him down on his back 
upon the sacrificial stone, while the high priest, after bowing 

Mexicans made the femblance of a 
bone out of paste and ate it sacra- 
mentally as the bone of the god. 
See Sahagun, op. cil, p. 33. 

1 Brasseur de Bourbooig, op, at, 

iii. 539. 

* Onedo, Histoire du Niearogma 
(Paris, 1840), p. 2 19. OTiedo's account 
is borrowed by Herrera {Getural His^ 
tory of the vast Contimnt and Islands 
of Ameruaj trans, by Sterens, iii. 301). 





to the god he was about to kill, cut open his breast and tore 
out the throbbing heart with the accustomed rites. But 
instead of being kicked down the staircase and sent rolling 
from step to step like the corpses of common victims, the 
body of the dead god was carried respectfully down, and his 
flesh, chopped up small, was distributed among the priests 
and nobles as a blessed food. The head, being severed from 
the trunk, was preserved in a sacred place along with the 
white and grinning skulls of all the other victims who had 
lived and died in the character of the god Tetzcatlipoca.^ 

We arc now able to suggest an explanation of the pro- 
verb " There are many Manii at Aricia." * Certain loaves 
made in the shape of men were called by the Romans 
maniae^ and it appears that this kind of loaf was especially 
made at Aricia.* Now, Mania, the name of one of these 
loaves, was also the name of the Mother or Grandmother of 
Ghosts,* to whom woollen effigies of men and women were 
dedicated at the festival of the Compitalia. These effigies 
were hung at the doors of all the houses in Rome ; one 
effigy was hung up for every free person in the house, and 
one efl^, of a different kind, for every slave. The reason 
was that on this day the ghosts of the dead were believed 
to be going about, and it was hoped that they would carry 
oif the effigies at the door instead of the living people in the 
house. According to tradition, these woollen figures were 
substitutes for a former custom of sacrificing human beings.' 
Upon data so fragmentary and uncertain, it is of course 
impossible to build with confidence ; but it seems worth 
suggesting that the loaves in human form, which appear to 
have been baked at Aricia, were sacramental bread, and 
that in the old days, when the divine King of the Wood 

' Brasseur de Bourlx>arg, op. (it. the mother or grandmother of the 

iii. 510-512. larvae ; the other writers speak of the 

' See above, vol. i. p. 5 x^. mother of the lares. 

3 Festus, ed. Miiller, pp. 128, 129, ^ Macrobius, l.c,\ Festus, pp. 121, 

145. The reading of the last passage 239, ed. Miiller. The effigies hung 

is, however, uncertain (**^/ Ariciae up for the slaves were called pilae^ 

genus pOHni fieri ; quod manici\app€l' not maniae. Pilae was also the name 

letur**). given to the straw-men which were 

* Varro, De ling. lat. ix. 61 ; thrown to the bulls to gore in the 

Amobius, Adv. fuUioms^ iii. 41; arena. See Martial, ^^jfr. ii. 43. 5 /^. ; 

Macrobius, Sa/um. i. 7. 35 ; Festus, Asconius, /n Camel, p. 55, ed. Kiess- 

p. 12S, ed. Miiller. Festus s^Hfaks of ling and Schoell. 




was annually slain, loaves were made in his image, like the 
paste figures of the gods in Mexico, and were eaten sacra- 
mentally by his worshippers.* The Mexican sacraments in 
honour of Huitzilopochtli were also accompanied by the 
sacrifice of human victims. The tradition that the founder 
of the sacred grove at Aricia was a man named Manius, 
from whom many Manii were descended, would thus be an 
etymological myth invented to explain the name maniae as 
applied to these sacramental loaves. A dim recollection of 
the original connection of these loaves with human sacrifices 
may perhaps be traced in the story that the effigies dedicated 
to Mania at the Compitalia were substitutes for human 
victims. The story itself, however, is probably devoid of 
foundation, since the practice of putting up dummies to 
divert the attention of ghosts or demons from living people 
is not uncommon. As the practice is both widely spread 
and very characteristic of the manner of thought of primitive 
man, who tries in a thousand ways to outwit the malice of 
spiritual beingsj I may be pardoned for devoting a few pages 
to its illustration, even though in doing so I divei^c some- 
what from the strict line of argument. I would ask the 

^ The ancients were at least familiar 
with the practice of sacrificing images 
made of dough or other materials as 
substitutes for the animals themselves. 
It was a recognised principle that 
when an animal could not be easily 
obtained for sacrifice, it was lawful 
to offer an image of it made of bread 
or wax (Servius on Virgil, Aen, ii. 
Ii6; cp. Pausanias, x. 1 8. 5). 
(Similarly a North • American Indian 
dreamed that a sacrifice of twenty 
elans was necessary for the recovery 
of a sick girl ; but the elans could not 
be procured, and the girl*s parents 
were allowed to sacrifice twenty loaves 
instead. Relations des Jesuites, 1 636, 
p. II, ed. 1858.) Poor people who 
could not afford to sacrifice real 
animals offered dough images of them 
(Suidas, s. v. fiovs Iftdopun ; cp. 
Hesychius,, /3oDt, IfiBofan /SoDt). 
I lence bakers made a regular business 
of baking cakes in the likeness of all 
the animals which were sacrificed to the 
gods (Proculus, quoted and emended 

by Lobeck, Aglaophamus^ p. 1079). 
When Cyzicus was besieged by MiUiri- 
dates and the people could not procure 
a black cow to sacrifice at the rites of 
Proserpine, they made a cow of dough 
and placed it at the altar (Plutarch, 
iMculluSt 10). In a Boeotian sacrifice 
to Hercules, in place of the ram which 
was the proper victim, an apple was 
regularly substituted, four chips being 
stuck in it to represent legs and two 
to represent horns (Pollux, i. 30 sg.). 
The Athenians are said to have once 
offered to Hercules a similar substitute 
for an ox (Zenobius, Cent, v. 22). And 
the Locrians, being at a loss for an ox 
to sacrifice, made one out of figs and 
sticks, and offered it instead of the 
animal (Zenobius, Cent. v. 5). At 
the Athenian festival of the Diasia 
cakes shaped like animals were sacri« 
ficed (Schol. on Thucydides, i. 126, 
p. 36 ed. Didot). We have seen above 
(p. 306) that the poorer Egyptians 
offered cakes of dough instead of 



reader to observe that the vicarious use of images, with 
which we are here concerned, differs wholly in principle from 
the sympathetic use of them which we examined before ; ^ 
and that while the sympathetic use belongs purely to magic, 
the vicarious use falls within the domain of religion. 

It is well known that the spirits of persons who have 
recently departed this life are apt to carry off with them to 
the world of the dead the souls of their surviving relations. 
Hence the savage resorts to the device of making up 
dummies or effigies which he puts in the way of the ghost, 
hoping that the dull-witted spirit will mistake them for 
real people and so leave the survivors in peace. Hence in 
Tahiti the priest who performed the funeral rites used to lay 
some slips of plantain leaf-stalk on the breast and under the 
arms of the corpse, saying, " There are your family, there Ls 
your child, there is your wife, there is your father, and there 
is your mother. Be satisfied yonder (that is, in the world of 
spirits). Look not towards those who are left in the world." 
This ceremony, we are told, was designed " to impart con- 
tentment to the departed, and to prevent the spirit from 
repairing to the places of his former resort, and so distressing 
the survivors." * When the Galelareese bury a corpse, they 
bury with it the stem of a banana-tree for company, in order 
that the dead person niiay not seek a companion among the 
living. Just as the coffin is being lowered into the earth, 
one of the bystanders steps up and throws a young banana- 
tree into the grave, saying, " Friend, you must miss your 
companions of this earth ; here, take this as a comrade." * 
In the Banks Islands, Melanesia, the ghost of a woman who 
has died in childbed cannot go away to Panoi or ghost-land 
if her child lives, for she cannot leave the baby behind. 
Hence to bilk her ghost they tie up a piece of banana- 
trunk loosely in leaves and lay it on her bosom in the grave. 
So away she goes, thinking she has her baby with her, and 
as she goes the banana-stalk keeps slipping about in the 
leaves, and she fancies it is the child stirring at her breast. 

' See T0I. L p. 10 sqq, Verhalen en Overleveringen der Galela- 

' W. Ellis, Polynesian Researches ^ xttztXi^ BijdragenlotdeTaal'iMnd'en 

L 402. Volkenkunde van Nederlandsch-lndii^ 

' M. J. vmn Baarda, "Fabelen, xlv. (1895), p. 539- 




Thus she is happy till she comes to ghost-land and finds she 
has been deceived ; for a baby of banana-stalk cannot pass 
muster among the ghosts. So back she comes tearing in 
grief and rage to look for the child ; but meantime the infant 
has been artfully removed to another house, where the dead 
mother cannot find it, though she looks for it everywhere for 
ever.^ In the Pelew Islands, when a woman has died in 
childbed, her spirit comes and cries, " Give me the child ! " 
So to beguile her they bury the stem of a young banana-tree 
with her body, cutting it short and laying it between her 
right arm and her breast.* The same device is adopted for 
the same purpose in the island of Timor.* In like circum- 
stances negroes of the Niger Delta force a piece of the stem 
of a plantain into the womb of the dead mother, in order to 
make her think that she has her babe with her and so to 
prevent her spirit from coming back to claim the living child.^ 
Among the Yorubas of West Africa, when one of twins dies, 
the mother carries about, along with the surviving child, a 
small wooden figure roughly fashioned in human shape and of 
the sex of the dead twin. This figure is intended not merely 
to keep the live child from pining for its lost comrade, but 
also to give the spirit of the dead child something into which 
it can enter without disturbing its little brother or sister.* 
Among the Tschwi of West Africa a lady observed a sickly 
child with an image beside it which she took for a doll. 
But it was no doll, it was an ims^e of the child's dead twin 
which was being kept near the survivor as a habitation for 
the dead twin's soul, lest it should wander homeless and, feel- 
ing lonely, call its companion away after it along the darkling 
road of death.* At Onitsha, a vills^e on the left bank of the 
Niger, a missionary once met a funeral procession which he 
describes as very singular. The real body had already been 
buried in the house, but a piece of wood in the form of a 

1 R. H. Codrington, 7ii^.^/aifrfiVxMj, 

P- 275- 

* J. Kubary, ** Die Religion der 

Pelauer,** in Uastian's Alter Ui aits 

VolkS' uttd Menschenkunde^ i. 9. 

' W. M. Donselaar, " Aanteekenin- 

gen over het eiland Saleijer,** Afedtdeel' 

ingtH van wege tut Nederlandscke Zttt- 

deliptggetwotschap^ i. (1 857), p. 290. 

* Lc Comte C N. de Cardi, "Ju- 
ju laws and customs in the Niger 
Delta,'* y^^tfrwo/ of iki Antkropologital 
Institute^ xxix. (1899), P- 5^* 

^ A. B. Ellis, The Yoruba-speaking 
Peoples of the Slave Coast ^ p. 80. 

* Miss Mary H. Kingsley, Travels 
in IVest Africa^ p. 473. 



sofa and covered up was being borne by two persons on 
their heads, attended by a procession of six men and six 
women. The men carried cutlasses and the women clapped 
their hands as they passed along each street, crying, " This 
is the dead body of him that is dead, and is gone into the 
world of spirits." Meantime the rest of the villagers had to 
keep indoors.* The sham corpse was probably intended as 
a lure to draw away prowling demons from the real body. 
So among the Angoni, who inhabit the western bank of 
Lake Nyassa, there is a common belief that demons hover 
about the dying and dead before burial in order to snatch 
away their souls to join their own evil order. Guns are 
fired and drums are beaten to repel these spiritual foes, 
but a surer way of baulking their machinations is to have a 
mock funeral and so mislead and confound them. A sham 
corpse is made up out of anything that comes to hand, and 
it is treated exactly as if it were what it pretends to be. 
Thb lay figure is then carried some distance to a grave, 
followed by a great crowd weeping and wailing as if their 
hearts would break, while the rub-a-dub of drums and the 
discharge of guns add to the uproar. Meantime the real 
corpse is being interred as quietly and stealthily as possible 
near the house. Thus the demons are baffled ; for when 
the dummy corpse has been laid in the earth with every mark 
of respect, and the noisy crowd has dispersed, the fiends swoop 
down on the mock grave only to find a bundle of rushes or 
some such trash in it ; but the true grave they do not know 
and cannot find.* Similarly among the Bakundu of the 
Cameroons two graves are always made, one in the hut of 
the deceased and another somewhere else, and no one knows 
where the corpse is really buried. The custom is apparently 
intended to guard the knowledge of the real grave from 
demons, who might make an ill use of the body, if not of 
the soul, of the departed.* In like manner the Kamilaroi 
tribe of Australia are reported to make two graves, a real 

* S. Crowther and J. C Taylor, p. 114 s^, ; iV., AfytA ami Riligion^ 
The (hspei #m ike hanks 0/ ike Nign^ p. 1 55 sq, (from MS. notes of Dr. 
p. 250 i^. Elmslie). 

* J. Macdonald, «« East Central ' B. Schwarz, Kamerun (Leipsic, 
African Customs/' Jourtud of ike 18S6), p. 256 j^. ; £. RecloSyA'^wzv/Zr 
Afiikropolegical Instituie^ xxii. (1893), Ciograpkie Universelle^ xiii. 6Z sg. 


one and an empty one, for the purpose of cheating a malevo- 
lent spirit called Krooben.* In Bombay, if a person dies on 
an unlucky day, a dough figure of a man is carried on the 
bier with him and burnt with his corpse. This is supposed 
to hinder a second death from occurring in the family,* 
probably because the demons are thought to take the dough 
figure instead of a real person. 

Again, effigies are often employed as a means of prevent- 
ing or curing sickness ; the demons of disease either mistake 
the effigies for living people or are persuaded or compelled 
to enter them, leaving the real men and women well and 
whole. Thus the Alfoors of Minahassa, in Celebes, will 
sometimes transport a sick man to another house, while they 
leave on his bed a dummy made up of a pillow and clothes. 
This dummy the demon is supposed to mistake for the sick 
man, who consequently recovers.* Cure or prevention of 
this sort seems to find especial favour with the Dyaks of 
Borneo. Thus, when an epidemic is raging among them, 
the Dyaks of the Katoengouw river set up wooden images 
at their doors in the hope that the demons of the plague 
may be deluded into carrying off the effigies instead of the 
people.* Among the Oloh Ngadju of Borneo, when a sick 
man is supposed to be suffering from the assaults of a ghost, 
puppets of dough or rice-meal are made and thrown under 
the house as substitutes for the patient, who thus rids himself 
of the ghost So if a man has been attacked by a crocodile 
and has contrived to escape, he makes a puppet of dough or 
meal and casts it into the water as a vicarious offering ; 
otherwise the water god, who is conceived in the shape of a 
crocodile, might be angry.* In certain of the western dis- 
tricts of Borneo if a man is taken suddenly and violently 
sick, the physician, who in this part of the world is generally 
an old woman, fashions a wooden image and brings it seven 
times into contact with the sufferer's head, while she says : 

* J. Fraser, " The aborigines of New * P. J. Velh, Borneo's Wester- Afdeel- 

Soath Wales,"/wr. andProc. Ji, Soc. of ing (Zaltbommel, 1854-56), il 309. 
New South Wales, xvl (1882), p. 229. ^ F. Grmbowsky, *' Ueber verschie- 

' Panjah Notes and Queries, ii. p. dene weniger bekannte opfer bei den 

39f § 240. Oloh Ngadju in Borneo,*' Inter- 

^ N. Graafland, De Minahassa, i. nationales Archiv fiir Ethnographie, i. 

326. (1888), p. 132 sq. 



" This image serves to take the place of the sick man ; sick- 
ness, pass over into the image." Then, with some rice, salt, 
and tobacco in a little basket, the substitute is carried to the 
spot where the evil spirit is supposed to have entered into 
the man. There it is set upright on the ground, after the 
physician has invoked the spirit as follows : " O devil, here 
is an image which stands instead of the sick man. Release 
the soul of the sick man and plague the image, for it is 
indeed prettier and better than he." Similar substitutes are 
used almost daily by these Dyaks for the purpose of draw- 
ing oflF evil influences from anybody's person. Thus when 
an Ot Danom baby will not stop squalling, its maternal 
grandmother takes a large leaf, fashions it into a puppet to 
represent the child, and presses it against the infant's body. 
. Having thus decanted the spirit, so to speak, from the baby 
into the puppet, she pierces the effigy with little arrows from 
a blow-gun, thereby killing the spirit that had vexed her 
child.^ Similarly in the island of Dama, between New 
Guinea and Celebes, where sickness is ascribed to the agency 
of demons, the doctor makes a doll of palm-leaf and lays it, 
together with some betel, rice, and half of an empty egg- 
shell, on the patient's head. Lured by this bait the demon 
quits the sufferer's body and enters the palm-leaf doll, which 
the wily doctor thereupon promptly decapitates. This may 
be supposed to make an end of the demon and of the sickness 
together.* A Dyak sorcerer, being called in to prescribe for 
a little boy who suffered from a disorder of the stomach, 
constructed two effigies of the boy and his mother out of 
bundles of clothes and offered them, together with some of 
the parents' finery, to the devil who was plaguing the child ; 
it was hoped that the demon would take the effigies and 
leave the boy.* Batta magicians can conjure the demon of 
disease out of the patient's body into an image made out of 
a banana-tree with a human face and wrapt up in magic 

1 £. L. M. KQhr, « Schetsen nit L p. 267 sq. 

Borneo's WesteraTdeeliDg," Bijdragen * J. G. F. Rledel, ZV s/mA- en 

lot de Taai- Land- en Vbikenkunde kroesharige rasun tusuhen SeUbes en 

van NederlamUeh'Indii, xlvii. (1897), Papua^ p. 465. 

p. 60 sq. For another mode in whidi ' H. Ling Roth, ** Low's Natives of 

these same Dyaks seek to heal sickness '^tnto^^ Journal of the Anthropological 

by means of an image, see above, voL Institute^ xxi. (1892), p. 117. 




herbs ; the image is then hurriedly removed and thrown 
away or buried beyond the boundaries of the village.^ 

In the island of Nias people fear that the spirits of 
murdered infants may come and cause women with child to 
miscarry. To divert the unwelcome attention of these sprites 
from a pregnant woman an elaborate mechanism has been con- 
trived. A potent idol called Fangola is set up beside her bed 
to guard her slumbers during the hours of darkness from the 
evil things that might harm her; another idol, connected 
with the first by a chain of palm-leaves, is erected in the large 
room of the house ; and lastly a small banana-tree is planted 
in front of the second idol. The notion is that the sprites, 
scared away by the watchful Fangola from the sleeping 
woman, will scramble along the chain of palm-leaves to the 
other idol, and then, beholding the banana-tree, will mistake 
it for the woman they were looking for, and so pounce upon 
it instead of her.^ In Bhutan, when the Lamas make noisy 
music to drive away the demon who is causing disease, little 
models of animals are fashioned of flour and butter and the 
evil spirit is implored to enter these models, which are then 
burnt* A Burmese mode of curing a sick man is to bury a 
small effigy of him in a tiny coffin, after which he ought 
certainly to recover.* In Siam, when a person is dangerously 
ill, the magician models a small image of him in clay and 
carrying it away to a solitary place recites charms over it 
which compel the malady to pass from the sick man into the 
image. The sorcerer then buries the image, and the sufferer 
is made whole.^ So, too, in Cambodia the doctor fashions 
a rude effigy of his patient in clay and deposits it in some 
lonely spot, where the ghost or demon takes it instead of the 
man.^ The same ideas and the same practices prevail much 
further to the north among the tribes on the lower course of 
the River Amoor. When a Goldi or a Gilyak shaman has 

^ B. Hagen, ** Beitrage zur Kenntniss 
dcr Battareligion," Tijdschrift voor 
Indische Tool- Land- tn Volkenkunde^ 
xxviii. (1883), p. 53'- 

* Fr. Kramer, ** Der Gotzendienst 
dcr Niasser/' Tijdschrift voor Indische 
Tool' Land' en Volkenkunde^ xxxiii. 
(1890). p. 489. 

' A. Bastian, Die Volkerstamme am 

Brahmaputra (Berlin, 1883), p. 73. 

* Shway Yoe, The Burman^ ii. 1 38. 

* Pallegoix, Description du Royaume 
Thai OH Siam^ ii. 48 sq. Compare A. 
Bastian, Die Vblker des ostlichen Asien, 
iii. 293, 486 ; E. Young, The Kingdom 
of the Yellow Robe ^ p. 121. 

* J. Moura, Le Royaume du Cam- 
bodge^ i. 176. 




cast out the devil that caused disease, an abode has to be 
provided for the homeless devil, and this is done by making 
a wooden idol in human form of which the ejected demon 
takes possession.^ In Corea effigies are employed on much 
the same principle for the purpose of prolonging life. On 
the fourteenth and fifteenth day of the first month all men 
and women born under the Jen or " Man" star make certain 
straw images dressed in clothes and containing a number of 
the copper " cash " which form the currency of the country. 
Strictly speaking, there should- be as many " cash " in the 
image as the person whom it represents has lived years ; but 
the rule is not strictly observed. These images are placed 
on the path outside the house, and the poor people seize 
them and tear them up in order to get the " cash " which they 
contain. The destruction of the image is supposed to save 
the person represented from death for ten years. Accord- 
ingly the ceremony need only be performed once in ten 
years, though some people from excess of caution appear to 
observe it annually.* Among the Nishga Indians of British 
Columbia when a medicine -man dreams a dream which 
portends death to somebody, he informs the person whose 
life is threatened, and together they concert measures to 
avert the evil omen. The man whose life is at stake has 
a small wooden figure called a slUgigiadsqu made as like 
himself as the skill of the wood-carver will allow, and this 
he hangs round his neck by a string so that the figure lies 
exactly over his heart In this position he wears it long 
enough to allow the heat of his body to be imparted to 
it, generally for about four days. On the fourth day the 
medicine-man comes to the house, arrayed in his bearskin 
and other insignia of office and bringing with him a wisp of 
teased bark and a toy canoe made of cedar-bark. Thus 
equipped, he sings a doleful ditty, the death-song of the 
tribe. Then he washes the man over the region of the 
heart with the wisp of bark dipped in water, places the wisp, 
t(^ether with the wooden image, in the canoe, and after again 

J A. Woldl, "Die Kultus-gegen- * T. WaUcre, "Some Corean 

stande der Golden und Giljaken," Customs and Notions,** Folk-Ion^ tL 

IntematicnaUs Arckiv fur Etknih (1S95), p. %zsq. 
graphU^ i. (1888), p. I02 sq. 




singing the death-chant, commits image, wisp, and canoe to 
the flames, where they are all consumed. The death-chant 
is now changed to a song of joy, and the man who was 
lately in fear of his life joins in. He may well be gay, 
for has he not given death the slip by devoting to destruc- 
tion, not merely a wisp saturated with the dangerous defile- 
ment of his body, but also a substitute made in his own 
likeness and impregnated with his very heart's warmth ? ^ 

With these examples before us we may fairly conclude 
that the woollen effigies, which at the festival of the 
Compitalia might be seen hanging at the doors of all the 
houses in ancient Rome, were not substitutes for human 
victims who had formerly been sacrificed at this season, but 
rather vicarious offerings presented to the Mother or Grand- 
mother of Ghosts, in the hope that on her rounds through 
the city she would accept or mistake the effigies for the 
inmates of the house and so spare the living for another 
year. It is possible that the puppets made of rushes, which 
were annually thrown into the Tiber from the old Sublician 
bridge at Rome, had originally the same significance, though 
other and perhaps more probable explanations of the custom 
have been put forward.* But it is time to return from this 
digression to the custom of eating a god. 

The practice of killing the god has now been traced 
amongst peoples who have reached the agricultural stage of 
society. We have seen that the spirit of the com, or of 
other cultivated plants, is commonly represented either in 
human or in animal form, and that a custom has prevailed of 
killing annually either the human or the animal representative 
of the god. The reason for thus killing the corn-spirit in 
the person of his representative has been given implicitly in 
the earlier part of this chapter. But, further, we have found 
a widespread custom of eating the god sacramentally, either 
in the shape of the man or animal who represents the god. 

* The Illustrated Missionary News^ 
April 1st, 1891, p. S9^' 

' As to the custom see Varro, Di 
lingua latina^ v. 44 ; Ovid, Fasii^ v. 
621 sqq, ; Dionysius Halicaniasensis, 
Aniiquit, Rom, L 38. For various 
explanations which have been proposed, 
see L. Preller, Romisclu Mythologies 

iL 134 sqq, ; W. Mannhardt, Antiko 
IVald' und Feldkulte, p. 265 sqq, ; 
Journal of Philology, xiv. (1885), 
p. 156 note; W. Warde Fowler, The 
Roman Festivals of the period of the 
Republic (Ix>ndon, 1899), p. iiix^^. 
The ceremony was observed on thff 
fifteenth of May. 



or in the shape of bread made in human or animal form. 
The reasons for thus partaking of the body of the god are, 
from the primitive standpoint, simple enough. The savage 
commonly believes that by eating the flesh of an animal or 
man he acquires not only the physical, but even the moral 
and intellectual qualities which were characteristic of that 
animal or man. To take examples. ' The Creeks, Cherokees, 
and kindred tribes of North American Indians '' believe that 
nature is possessed of such a property, as to transfuse into 
men and animals the qualities, either 6f the food they use, 
or of those objects that are presented to their senses ; he 
who feeds on venison is, according to their physical system, 
swifter and more' sagacious than the man who lives on the 
flesh of the clumsy bear, or helpless dunghill fowls, the slow* 
footed tame cattle, or the heavy wallowing swine. This is 
the reason that several of their old men recommend, and say, 
that formerly their greatest chieftains observed a constant 
rule in their diet, and seldom ate of any animal of a gross 
quality, or heavy motion of body, fancying it conveyed a 
dulness through the whole system, and disabled them from 
exerting themselves with proper vigour in their martial, civil, 
and religious duties."^ The Zaparo Indians of South 
America '' will, unless from necessity, in most cases not eat 
any heavy meats, such as tapir and peccary, but confine 
themselves to birds, monkeys, deer, fish, etc., principally 
because they argue that the heavier meats make them 
unwieldy, like the animals who supply the flesh, impeding 
their agility, and unfitting them for the chase." * 

Certain tribes on the Upper Zambesi believe in trans- 
migration, and every man in his lifetime chooses the kind of 
animal whose body he wishes to enter. He then performs 
an initiatory rite, which consists in swallowing the maggots 
bred in the putrid carcass of the animal of his choice ; 
thenceforth he partakes of that animal's nature. And on 
the occasion of a calamity, while the women are giving them- 
selves up to lamentation, you will see ^ne man writhing on 
the ground like a boa constrictor or a crocodile, another 

» James Adair, History of ike JViUs of Eatador (London, 1887), p. 
American Ittdiarn^ p. 133. 168 ; iV/., in Journal of tho Anthrop. 

- Alfred Simson, Travels in ihe JnstUuU^ vii. (1878), p. 503. 

VOL. II 2 A 




howling and leaping like a panther, a third baying like a 
jackal, roaring like a lion, or grunting like a hippopotamus, 
all of them imitating the characters of the various animals to 
perfection.^ Clearly these people imagine that the soul or 
vital essence of the animal is manifested in the maggots bred 
in its decaying carcass ; hence they imagine that by swallow- 
ing the ms^gots they imbue themselves with the very life 
and spirit of the creature which they desire to become. The 
Namaquas abstain from eating the flesh of hares, because 
they think it would make them faint-hearted as a hare. 
But they eat the flesh of the lion, or drink the blood of the 
leopard or lion, to get the . courage and streng^ of these 
beasts.^ The flesh of the lion and also that of the spotted 
leopard are sometimes cooked and eaten by native warriors 
in South-Eastem Africa, who hope thereby to become as 
brave as lions.* When a Zulu army assembles to go forth 
to battle, the warriors eat slices of meat which is smeared 
with a powder made of the dried flesh of various animals, 
such as the leopard, lion, elephant, snakes, and so on ; for 
thus it is thought that the soldiers will acquire the bravery 
and other warlike qualities of these animals. Sometimes if 
a Zulu has killed a wild beast, for instance a leopard, he 
will give his children the blood to drink, and will roast the 
heart for them to eat, expecting that they will thus grow 
up brave and daring men. But others say that this is 
dangerous, because it is apt to produce courage without 
prudence, and to make a man rush heedlessly on his death.^ 
Among the Wabondei of Eastern Africa the heart of a lion 
or leopard is eaten with the intention of making the eater 
strong and brave.' In British Central Africa aspirants after 
courage consume the flesh and especially the hearts of lions, 
while lecherous persons eat the testicles of goats.* Arab 


^ A. Bertrand, The Kingdom cf tJU 
Barotsi^ Upper Zambezia (London, 
1S09), p. 277, qaoting the description 
given by the French missionary M. 

' Theophilus Hahn, Tsuni')\Goam, 
the Supreme Being of the Kkoi-Klm^ 
p. 106. 

' J. Macdonald, Light in Africei^ p. 

174 ; id,^ in Journal of the AnihrO' 
pological Institute^ xix. (1890), p. 282. 

* Callaway, Religious System of the 
Amatulu^ p. 438, note 16. 

^ O. Baumann, Usambara und seine 
Nachbargebiete (Berlin, 1 89 1), p. 128. 

• Sir H. H. Johnston, British 
Central Africa (London, 1897), P- 
438 ; J. Buchanan, The Shire High* 
landsy p. 138. 




women in North Africa give their male children a piece of 
a lion's heart to eat to make them fearless.^ The flesh of an 
elephant is thought by the Ewe-speaking peoples of West 
Africa to make the eater strong.^ When a serious disease 
has attacked a Zulu kraal, the medicine-man takes the bone 
of a very old dog, or the bone of an old cow, bull, or other 
very old animal, and administers it to the healthy as well as 
to the sick people, in order that they may live to be as old 
as the animal of whose bone they have partaken.* So to 
restore the aged Aeson to youth, the witch Medea infused 
into his veins a decoction of the liver of the long-lived deer 
and the head of a crow that had outlived nine generations 
of men.* In antiquity the flesh of deer and crows was 
eaten for other purposes than that of prolonging life. As 
deer were supposed not to suffer from fever, some women 
used to taste venison e\'ery morning, and it is said that in 
consequence they lived to a great age without ever being 
attacked by a fever ; only the venison lost all its virtue if 
the animal had been killed by more blows than one.' Again, 
ancient diviners sought to imbue themselves with the spirit 
of prophecy by swallowing vital portions of birds and beasts 
of omen ; for example, they thought that by eating the hearts 
of crows or moles or hawks they took into their bodies, 
along with the flesh, the prophetic soul of the creature.* 

Amongst the Dyaks of North-West Borneo young men 
and warriors may not eat venison, because it would make 
them as timid as deer ; but the women and very old men 
are free to eat it.^ When the Kansas Indians were going to 
war, a feast used to be held in the chiefs hut, and the 

> J. Shooter, The Kti^rs of Natal 
and the Zulu Country^ p. 399. 

* A. B. Ellis, Th* Ewe-speaking 
Peoples of the Slave Coast of tVest 
Africa^ p. 99. 

' Callaway, Nursery Tales^ Tradi- 
tionSf and Histories of the Zulus^ p. 
175 note. 

* Ovid, Metam, vii. 271 sqq. As 
to the supposed longevity of deer and 
crows, see L. Stephani, in Compte 
Rendu de la Commission Archiologique 
(St. Petersburg), 1863, p. 140 sq.^ 
and my note on Pausanias, viii. 10. 10. 

* Pliny, Nat, Hist. viii. 119. 

• Porphyry, De Abstinentia, ii. 48 : 
ol yow ]^u>up luunucw ^fnrx^t H^aaOeu 
^vKbiu90i c/t iavro6t, rd Kvpuirrara 
fUpui iraraTc^rret, oTor mpdlas KOpdicup 
^ dffwaXiKiMf 1^ ItpdKVP, ^OMTc xo^oiMrar 

iH^ ^vxf^r Kal xpi7M<i^^^>^<U' ^ ^*^^ 
Koi €loiovcaw (It airoin AfM rp Mioti 
T^ ToO ouf/iaros, Pliny also mentions 
the custom of eating the heart of a 
mole, raw and palpitating, as a means 
of acquiring skill in divination {Nat, 
Hist, XXX. 19). 

^ St. John, Ltfe in the Forests of the 
Far East,* \, 186, 206. 




principal dish was dog's flesh, because, said the Indians, the 
animal who is so brave that he will let himself be cut in 
pieces in defence of his master, must needs inspire valour.^ 
Men of the Buro and Am Islands, East Indies, eat the flesh 
of dogs in order to be bold and nimble in war.* Amongst 
the Papuans of the Port Moresby and Motumotu districts, 
New Guinea, young lads eat strong pig, wallaby, and large 
fish, in order to acquire the strength of the animal or fish.* 
Some of the natives of Northern Australia fancy that by 
eating the flesh of the kangaroo or emu they are enabled 
to jump or run faster than before.* The Miris of Northern 
India prize tiger's flesh as food for men ; it gives them 
strength and courage. But " it is not suited for women ; it 
would make them too strong-minded."* In Corea the 
bones of tigers fetch a higher price than those of leopards 
as a means of inspiring courage. A Chinaman in Soul 
bought and ate a whole tiger to make himself brave and 
fierce.^ The special seat of courage, according to the 
Chinese, is the gall-bladder ; so they sometimes procure 
the gall-bladders of tigers and bears, and eat the bile in 
the belief that it will give them courage.^ In Norse history, 
Ingiald, son of King Aunund, was timid in his youth, but 
after eating the heart of a wolf he became very bold ; and 
Hialto gained strength and courage by eating the heart of 
a bear and drinking its blood.^ So the Similkameen 
Indians of British Columbia imagine that to eat the heart of * 
a bear inspires courage.^ In Morocco lethargic patients are 
given ants to swallow ; and to eat lion's flesh will make a 
coward brave.*® When a child is late in learning to speak. 







^ Bossu, Nouveaux Voyages aux 
Index occidentales (Paris, 1768), i. 

' Riedel, De sluik* en kroesharige 
rassen tusuken SeUbcs en Papua^ pp. 
10, 262. 

' James Chalmers, Fioneering in 
New Guinea^ p. 166. 

^ Journal of the Anthropological 
Institute^ xxiv. (1 895), p. 1 79. 

^ Dalton, Etknokgy of Bengal, p. 


* Proceedings Royal Geogr, Society, 

N.S., viiL (1886), p. 307. 

7 J. Henderson, "The Medicine and 
Medical Practice of the Chinese, **y(M/r». 
North China Branch P, Asiatic Society^ 
New Series, L (Shanghai, 1865), p. 35 
sq. Compare Mrs. Bishop, Korea and 
her Neighbours (Ixmdon, 1898), L 79. 

^ Miiller on Saxo Grammaticns* 
vol. ii. p. 60. 

* Mrs. S. S. Allison, << Account 
of the Similkameen Indians of British 
Columbia," JoumcU of the Anthropo^ 
logical Institute, -XXL (1892), p. 313. 

*® Leared, Morocco and the Moors 
(London, 1876), p. 281. 


the Turks of Central Asia will give it the tongues of certain 
birds to eat.* A North American Indian thought that 
brandy must be a decoction of hearts and tongues, " because," 
said he, " after drinking it I fear nothing, and I talk wonder- 
fully." * In Java there is a tiny earthworm which now and 
then utters a shrill sound like that of the alarum of a small 
clock. Hence when a public dancing girl has screamed 
. herself hoarse in the exercise of her calling, the leader of 
the troop makes her eat some of these worms, in the belief 
that thus she will regain her voice and will, after swallowing 
them, be able to scream as shrilly as ever.* The people of 
Darfur, in Central Africa, think that the liver is the seat of 
the soul, and that a man may enlarge his soul by eating 
the liver of an animal. ^ Whenever an animal is killed its 
liver is taken out and eaten, but the people are most careful 
not to touch it with their hands, as it is considered sacred ; 
it is cut up in small pieces and eaten raw, the bits being 
conveyed to the mouth on the point of a knife, or the sharp 
point of a stick. Any one who may accidentally touch the 
liver is strictly forbidden to partake of it, which prohibition 
is regarded as a great misfortune for him." Women are not 
allowed to eat liver, because they have no soul.^ 

Again, the flesh and blood of men are commonly eaten 
and drunk to inspire bravery, wisdom, or other qualities 
for which the men themselves were remarkable, or which 
are supposed to have their special seat in the particular part 
eaten. Thus among the mountain tribes of South-Eastem 
Africa there are ceremonies by which the youths are formed 
into guilds or lodges, and among the rites of initiation there 
is one which is intended to infuse courage, intelligence, and 
other qualities into the novices. Whenever an enemy who 
has behaved with conspicuous bravery is killed, his liver, 
which is considered the seat of valour ; bis ears, which are 
supposed to be the seat of intelligence ; the skin of his 
forehead, which is regarded as the seat of perseverance ; his 

* Vambcry, Das Tiirktnvolk (Leipsic, natuur," IntemationaUs Archhf fur 

1885), p. a 1 8. Etktuigraphie^ vii. (1894). p. 140/^. 

« /^ 1 • zj'^ ' J t XT n * Fclkin, "Notes on the For tribe 

w. • fi ^^ Central Africa," Procudmgs of the 

rrance, n. ©. ^^ ^^^^ of Edinburgh, xiii. ( 1 884. 

» P. J. Veth, "De leer dcr Sig- 1886), p. 218. 


testicles, which are held to be the seat of strength ; and 
other members, which are viewed as the seat of other virtues, 
are cut from his body and baked to cinders. The ashes 
are carefully kept in the horn of a bull, and, during the 
ceremonies observed at circumcision, arc mixed with other 
ingredients into a kind of paste, which is administered by the 
tribal priest to the youths. By this means the strength, 
valour, intelligence, and other virtues of the slain are believed 
to be imparted to the eaters.' When Basutos of the moun- 
tains have killed a very brave foe, they immediately cut out 
his heart and eat it, because this is supposed to give them his 
courage and strength in battle. At the close of the war the 
man who has slain such a foe is called before the chief and 
gets from the doctor a medicine which he chews with his food. 
The third day after this he must wash his body in running 
water, and at the expiry of ten days he may return to his 
wives and children.* So an Ovambo warrior in battle will 
tear out the heart of his slain foe in the belief that l^ eating 
it he can acquire the bravery of the dead man.* A similar 
belief and practice prevail among some of the tribes of 
British Central Africa, notably among the Ang^ni. These 
tribes also mutilate the dead and reduce the severed parts to 
ashes. Afterwards the ashes are stirred into a broth or gruel, 
" which must be ' lapped ' up with the hand and thrown 
into the mouth, but not eaten as ordinary food is taken, 
to give the soldiers courage, perseverance, fortitude, strat^y, 
patience and wisdom."* It is said that the Amazons of 
Dahomey still eat the hearts of foes remarkable for their 
bravery, in order that some of the intrepidity which 
animated them may be transfused into the eaters. In 
former days, if report may be trusted, the hearts of enemies 
who enjoyed a reputation for sagacity were also eaten, for 
the Ewe-speaking negro of these r^ons holds that 

' J. Mkcilonald, "Muineri,custoini, * H. Schinz, Dtui 

etc., or the South Afriom tribes," AJriia, p. 330. 
JaMmaleflkt Antkrapelegical Inslihtlt, 

XX. (1891), p. 116; id. Light in * J. Micdonald, ■' 

Afrita,p.%x%. Conpue Casalii, ri; Mnaa OoMnait," Jo»i 

BasuUs, p. 357 iq. lirefdtgical InitiUtle, i 

' J. Macdonild, in/nini. Anlhtvfi. iii. Compare J. Buchanw 

Init. XX. (1891). p. 138; id.,UgktiB IIighlandt,p.tii; SirH." 

A/ricOy p. aao. Brilitk Ctiitral A/r' - 


heart is the seat of the intellect as well as of courage.^ 
Among the Yoruba-speaking negroes of the Slave Coast 
the priests of Ogun, the war-god, usually take out the 
hearts of human victims, which are then dried, crumbled to 
powder, mixed with rum, and sold to aspirants after courage, 
who swallow the mixture in the belief that they thereby 
absorb the manly virtue of which the heart is supposed to 
be the seat* Similarly Indians of the Orinoco region used 
to toast the hearts of their enemies, grind them to powder, 
and then drink the powder in a: liquid in order to be brave 
and valiant the next time they went forth to fight,' The 
Nauras Indians of New Granada ate the hearts of Spaniards 
when they had the opportunity, hoping thereby to make 
themselves as dauntless as the dreaded Castilian chivalry.* 

But while the human heart is thus commonly eaten 
for the sake of imbuing the eater with the qualities of 
its original owner, it is not, as we have already seen, 
the only part of the body which is consumed for this 
purpose. The Australian Kamilaroi eat the liver as well as 
the heart of a brave man to get his courage.' With the 
like intent the Chinese swallow the bile of notorious bandits 
who have been executed.' The Italones of the Philippine 
Islands drink the blood of their slain enemies, and eat 
part of the back of their heads and of their entrails raw to 
acquire their courage. For the same reason the Efugaos. 
another tribe of the Philippines, suck the brains of their 
foes.' Among the Dieri tribe of Central Australia, wlmi <. 
man has been condemned and killed by a properly oo) - 
stituted party of executioners, the weapons with which in- 
deed was done are washed in a small wooden w*b',. s: 
the bloody mixture is administered to all the xisrrr.' : 

1 A, B. EUbi, Tkt Ewt-iptaking 
--la ^lk4 Slant Ceaa, p. 99 ly. 
H, Tht yart^.,ftaJUnt PupUs 
" '"—Ceait, p. 69. 

Jiutmia Cerv-grafhua 
'im dtia Nueva Anda- 

•Itra/ Hhbrj tf tkt 
t Itlarndt tf Amtrica, 
Ti. 187. 




prescribed manner, while they lie down on their backs 
and the elders pour it into their mouths. This is believed 
to give them double strength, courage, and great nerve for 
any future enterprise.^ Among the Kimbunda of Western 
Africa, when a new king succeeds to the throne, a brave 
prisoner of war is killed in order that the king and nobles 
may eat his flesh, and so acquire his strength and courage.^ 
The notorious Ziilu chief Matuana drank the gall of thirty 
chiefs, whose people he had destroyed, in the belief that it 
would make him strong.^ It is a Zulu fancy that by eating 
the centre of the forehead and the eyebrow of an enemy 
they acquire the power of looking steadfastly at a foe.* In 
Tud or Warrior Island, Torres Straits, men would drink the 
sweat of renowned warriors, and eat the scrapings from 
their finger-nails which had become coated and sodden with 
human blood. This was done " to make strong and like 
stone ; no afraid." * In Nagir, another island of Torres 
Straits, in order to infuse courage into boys a warrior used 
to take the eye and tongue of a dead man (probably of a 
slain enemy), and after mincing them and mixing them 
with his urine he administered the compound to the boy, 
who received it with shut eyes and open mouth seated 
between the warrior's legs.^ Before every warlike ex- 
pedition the people of Minahassa in Celebes used to take 
the locks of hair of a slain foe and dabble them in boiling 
water to extract the courage ; this infusion of bravery was 
then drunk by the warriors.^ In New Zealand " the chief 
was an atua [god], but there were powerful and powerless 
gods ; each naturally sought to make himself one of the 
former ; the plan therefore adopted was to incorporate the 
spirits of others with their own ; thus, when a warrior slew 
a chief he immediately gouged out his eyes and swallowed 
them, the atua tonga, or divinity, being supposed to reside 

^ S. Gason, in Joum, Anthrop, 
JnsL, xxiv. (1895), P- 172* 

' Magymr, Rtiten in Sud'Afrika in 
denjahren 1 849- 1 85 7, pp. 273-276. 

' J. Shooter, The Kafirs tf Natal, 
p. 216. 

^ CalUway, Nursery Tales, Tradi- 
tions and Histories of the Zulus, p. 
163 note. 

* A. C Haddon, "The Ethno- 
graphy of the Western Tribe of Torres 
Straits, " Journal of the Anthropological 
Institute, six. (1890), p. 414, q>. p. 

* A. C Haddon, op. cit, p. 420. 

7 S. J. Hickson, A Naturalist in 
North Celebes (London, 1889), p. 216. 



in that organ ; thus he not only killed the body, but also 
f possessed himself of the soul of his enemy, and con- 
sequently the more chiefs he slew the greater did his 
divinity become." ^ A peculiar form of communion with 
the dead is practised by the Gallas of Eastern Africa. 
They think that food from the house of a dead man, 
especially food that he liked, or that he cooked for himself, 
contains a portion of his life or soul. If at the funeral feast 
a man eats some of that food, he fancies that he has thereby 
absorbed some of the life or soul, of the departed, a portion 
of his spirit, intelligence, or cours^^e.* 

Just as the savage thinks that he can swallow the 
moral and other virtues in the shape of food, so he 
fondly imagines that he can inoculate himself with them. 
Here in Europe we as yet inoculate only against disease ; 
in Basutoland they have learned the art of inoculating 
not merely against disease but against moral evil and 
public calamity, against wild beasts and winter cold. For 
example, if an epidemic is raging, if public affairs go ill, 
or war threatens to break out, the chief, with paternal solici- 
tude, seeks to guard his people against the evils that menace 
them by inoculating them with his own hand. Armed 
Avith a lancet, he makes a slight incision in the temples of 
each one, and rubs into the wound a pinch of magic powder 
.which has been carefully compounded of the ashes of certain 
plants and animals. The plants and animals whose ashes 
compose this sovereign medicine are always symbolical ; in 
other words, they are supposed to be imbued with the virtues 
which the chief desires to impart to his people. They consist, 
for example, of plants whose foliage withstands the rigours 
of winter ; mimosas, whose thorns present an impenetrable 
barrier to all animals of the deer kind ; the claws or a 
few hairs from the mane of a lion, the brave;st of beasts ; 
the tuft of hair round the root of the horns of a bull, which 

1 R. Taylor, Te Ika a Afaui^ *r Maoris of New Zealand,'* Journal of 

New Zealand and its Inhabitants the Anthropological Institute, xix. 

(London, 1870), p. 352. Compare (1890), p. 108. 

ihid,^ 17 Z;\S.'E\\\%, Polynesian Ke- »Ph. Paulitscbke, Ethnographic 

searches, i. 358 ; J. Dumont D'Urvillc, Nordost^Afrikas: die geistigt Cultur 

■ Voyage autour du Monde sur la corvette der Dandiil, Galla und Somdl (Berlin, 

Astrolabe, ii. 547 ; E. Tregear, "The 1896), p. 56. 




IS the emblem of strength and fecundity ; the skin of a 
serpent ; the feathers of a kite or a hawk.* So when the 
Barotsi wish to be swift of foot, to cripple the fleeing game, 
and to ensure an abundant catch, they scarify their arms and 
legs and rub into the wounds a powder made of the burnt 
bones of various beasts and birds/'' Among some tribes of 
South-Eastem Africa the same magic powder which is made 
from various parts of slain foes, and is eaten by boys at 
circumcision,* is used to inoculate the fighting-men in time of 
war. ' The medicine-man makes an incision in the forehead 
of each warrior, and puts the powder into the cut, thus 
infusing strength and courage for the battle.* Among some 
Caffre tribes the powdered charcoal with which the warriors 
are thus inoculated in various parts of their bodies is procured 
by burning the flesh of a live ox with a certain kind of wood 
or roots, to which magic virtue is attributed.* Again, the 
Zulus know how to inoculate themselves not merely with 
moral . virtue, but even with celestial power. For you must 
know that the Zulus have heaven-herds or sky-herds, who 
drive away clouds big with hail and lightning, just as 
herdsmen drive cattle before them. These heaven -herds 
are in sympathy with the heaven. For when the heaven 
is about to be darkened, and before the clouds appear or 
the thunder mutters, the heart of the heaven -herd feels it 
coming, for it is hot within him and he is excited by anger. 
When the sky begins to be overcast, he too grows dark like 
it ; when it thunders, he frowns, that his face may be black 
as the scowl of the angry heaven. Now the way in which 
he thus becomes sympathetic with all the changing moods 
of the inconstant heaven is this : he eats the heaven and 
scarifies himself with it. And the way in which he eats the 
heaven and scarifies himself with it is as follows. When a 
bullock is struck by lightning, the wizard takes its flesh and 
puts it in a sherd and eats it while it is hot, mixed with 


^ Casalis, The Basutos^ p. 256 sq, 
. ' E. Holub, Siehen Jcihre in Siid- 
Afrika^ ii. 361. 

' Sec above, p. 357 sq- 

^ J. Macdonald, '* Manners, Cus- 
toms, etc, of South African Tribes," 
Journal of the Anthropological Insti- 

tute, XX. (1 89 1), p. 133. The Baro- 
long, a Bechuana tribe, observe a cus- 
tom of this sort See W. Joest, *• Bci 
den Barolong," Das Ausland, i6th 
June 1884, p. 464. 

^ Maclean, Kafir Laws and Customs, 
p. 82. 


medicine ; and thus he eats the heaven by eating the flesh, 
which came from the beast, which was struck by the lightning, 
which came down from the heaven. And in like manner he 
scarifies himself with the heaven, for he makes cuts in his 
body and rubs in medicine mixed with the flesh of a bullock 
that was struck by lightning.* In some Caflre tribes, when 
an animal or a man has been struck by lightning, the priest 
comes straightway and vaccinates every person in the kraal, 
apparently as a sort of insurance against lightning. He sets 
to work by tying a number of charms round the neck of 
every man and woman in the village, in order that they may 
have power to dig the dead man's grave ; for in these tribes 
beasts and men alike that have been struck by lightning are 
always buried, and the flesh is never eaten. Next a sacrificial 
beast is killed and a Are kindled, in which certain magic woods 
or roots are burned to charcoal, and then ground to powder. 
The priest thereupon makes incisions in various parts of the 
bodies of each inmate of the kraal, and rubs a portion of the 
powdered charcoal into the cuts ; the rest of the powder he 
mixes with sour milk, and gives to them all to drink. From 
the time the lightning strikes the kraal until this ceremony 
has been performed, the people are obliged to abstain 
entirely from the use of milk. Their heads are then shaved. 
Should a house have been struck by lightning it must be 
abandoned, with everything in it. Urttil all these rites have 
been performed, none of the people may leave the kraal or 
have any intercourse whatever with others; but when the cere- 
monies have been duly performed, the people are pronounced 
clean, and may again associate with their neighbours. 
However, for some months afterwards none of the live stock 
of the kraal and few other things belonging to it are allowed 
to pass into other hands, whether by way of sale or of gift.* 
Hence it would appear that all persons in a village which 
has been struck by lightning are supposed to be infected 
with a dangerous virus, which they might communicate to 
their neighbours ; and the vaccination is intended to disinfect 
them as well as to protect them against the recurrence of a 
like calamity. Young Carib warriors used to be inoculated 

^ Callaway, Religious System of the < 'Madeaai, Aa/ir Laws ami Customs, 

Amazulu, pp. 380-382. p. 83 s^. 



for the purpose of making them brave and hardy. Some 
time before the ceremony the lad who was to be operated 
on caught a bird of prey of a particular sort and kept it in 
captivity till the day appointed. When the time was come \ 
and friends had assembled to witness the ceremony, the father 
of the boy seized the bird by its legs and crushed its head by 
beating it on the head of his son, who dared not wince under 
the rain of blows that nearly stunned him. Next the father 
bruised and pounded the bird's flesh, and steeped it in water ' \ 
together with a certain spice; after which he scored and 
slashed his son's body in all directions, washed his wounds 
with the decoction, and gave him the bird's heart to eat, in 
order, as it was said, that he might be the braver for it^ 

It is not always deemed necessary either that the 
mystical substance should be swallowed by the communi- 
cant, or that he should receive it by the more painful 
process of scarification and inoculation. Sometimes it is 
thought enough merely to anoint him with it Among some 
of the Australian blacks it used to be a common practice to 
kill a man, cut out his caul -fat, and rub themselves with it, 
in the belief that all the qualities, both physical and mental, 
which had distinguished the original owner of the fat, were 
thus communicated by its means to the person who greased 
himself with it* The n^^roes of Southern Guinea regard 
the brain as the seat of wisdom, and think it a pity that, 
when a wise man dies, his brain and his wisdom should go 
to waste together. So they sever his head from his body 
and hang it up over a mass of chalk, which, as the head 
decays, receives the drippings of brain and wisdom. Any 
one who applies this precious mixture to his forehead is 
supposed to absorb thereby the intelligence of the dead.' 
At a certain stage of the ceremonies by which, in the 
Andaman Islands, a boy is initiated into manhood, the chief 
takes the carcass of a boar and presses it heavily down on 
the shoulders, back, and limbs of the young man as he sits, 

^ Du Teitre, HUtoirt getteraU des Morale des lies Antilles^ (Rotterdam, 

Isles de S, Ckristophe^ de la Guade- 1665), p. 556. 

lou^y de la Martinique et asUres dans * Brough Smith, Aborigines of ViC' 

lAmerique (Paris, 1654), p. 4x7 sq,\ toria^ ii. 313. 

iV/., Histoire generate des Antilles^ ii. ' J. L. Wilson, Western Africa^ 

377 ; Rochcfort, Histoire Nalurelle et p. 394. 




silent and motionless, on the ground. This is done to make 
him brave and strong. Afterwards the animal is cut up, 
and its melted fat is poured over the novice, and rubbed into 
his body.^ The Arabs of Eastern Africa believe that an 
unguent of lion's fat inspires a man with boldness, and 
makes the wild beasts flee in terror before him.* Most of 
the Baperis, or Malekootoos, a Bechuana tribe of South 
Africa, revere or, as they say, sing the porcupine, which 
seems to be their totem, as the sun is the totem of some 
members of the tribe, and a species of ape the totem of 
others. Those of them who have the porcupine for their 
totem swear by the animal, and lament if any one injures it. 
When a porcupine has been killed, they religiously gather up 
its bristles, spit on them, and rub their eyebrows with them, 
saying, "They have slain our brother, our master, one of 
ourselves, him whom we sing." They would fear to die if 
they ate of its flesh. Nevertheless they esteem it wholesome 
for an infant of the clan to rub into his joints certain 
portions of the paunch of the animal mixed with the sap of 
some plants to which they ascribe an occult virtue.' So at 
the solemn ceremony which is observed by the Central 
Australian tribes for the purpose of multipljring kangaroos, 
men of the kangaroo totem not only eat a little kangaroo 
flesh as a sacrament, but also have their bodies anointed with 
kangaroo fat Doubtless the intention alike of the eating 
and of the anointing is to impart to the man the qualities of 
his totem animal, and thus to enable him to perform the 
ceremonies for the multiplication of the breed.* 

It is now easy to understand why a savage should desire 

* £. H. Man, Aboriginal Inhabit- 
anil of the Andaman Islands^ p. 66. 

' Jerome Becker, La Vie en A/- 
riqne (Paris and Brussels, 1887), ii. 

' Arbottsiet et Daumas, Voyage 
d* Exploration an Nord^est de la 
Colonie du Cap de Bonni^Espirance 
(Pkris, 1842), p. 349 sq, 

^ Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes 
of Central Australia^ p. 204 sq. Men 
of other totem clans also partake of 
their totems sacramentally at these 
Intichiuma ceremonies (Spencer and 

Gillen, op. cit. pp. ao2-ao6). As 
to the Intichiuma ceremonies, see 
above, p. 113 sgg. Another Central 
Australian mode of communicating 
qualities by external application is 
seen in the custom of beating boys on 
the calves of their legs with the leg- 
bone of an eagle-hawk ; strength is 
supposed to pass thereby from the 
bone into the boy's leg. See Spencer 
and Gillen, op. eit, p. 472 ; Report 
on the Work of the Horn Scientific 
Expedition to Central Anstralia, part 
iv. p. i8a 


to partake of the flesh of an animal or man whom he regards 
as divine. By eating the body of the god he shares in the 
god's attributes and powers. And when the god is a corn- 
god, the com is his proper body ; when he is a vine-god, the 
juice of the grape is his blood ; and so by eating the bread 
and drinking the wine the worshipper partakes of the real 
body and blood of his god. Thus the drinking of wine in 
the rites of a vine-god like Dionysus is not an act of revelry, 
it is a solemn sacrament^ Yet a time comes when* reasonable i 
men And it hard to understand how any one in his senses j 
can suppose that by eating bread or drinking wine he 
consumes the body or blood of a deity. " When we call j 
com Ceres and wine Bacchus," says Cicero, " we use a com- * 
mon figure of speech ; but do you imagine that anybody is \ 
so insane as to believe that the thing he feeds upon is a i 
god?"« ! 

§ 1 2. Killing the Divine Animal 

It remains to show that hunting and pastoral tribes, as 
well as agricultural peoples, have been in the habit of killing 
their gods. Among the gods whom hunters and shepherds 
adore and kill are animals pure and simple, not animals 
regarded as embodiments of other supernatural beings. Our 
first example is drawn from the Indians of California, who 
living in a fertile country • under a serene and temperate 
sky, nevertheless rank near the bottom of the savage scale. 
Where a stretch of iron-bound coast breaks the long line of 
level sands that receive the rollers of the Pacific, there stood 
in former days, not far from the brink of the great cliffs, the 
white mission-house of San Juan Capistrano. Among the 
monks who here exercised over a handful of wretched 
Indians the austere discipline of Catholic Spain, there 
was a certain Father Boscana who has bequeathed to 
us a precious record of the customs and superstitions of his 

^ On the custom of eating a god, see vol. i. p. 358 sqq. 
also a paper Vy Felix Uebtecht, •' Der , Cicero, Dc mitura dtorum, iu. i6. 

pp. 436-439 ; and especially W. R. ^ ' 

Smith, art. "Sacrifice," EncycL Bri- ' This does not refer to the Cali- 

iantt. 9th ed. vol. xxi. p. 1 37 $q. On fomian peninsula, which b an arid and 

wine as the blood of a god, see above, treeless wilderness of rock and sand. 





savage flock. Thus he tells us that the Acagchemen 
tribe adored the great buzzard. Once a year, at a great 
festival called Panes or bird-feast, they carried one of these 
birds in procession to their chief temple, which seems to 
have been merely an unroofed enclosure of stakes. Here 
they killed the bird without losing a drop of its blood. The 
skin was removed entire and preserved with the feathers as 
a relic or for the purpose of making the festal garment or 
pas/t. The carcass was buried in a hole in the temple, and 
the old women gathered round the grave weeping and 
moaning bitterly, while they threw various kinds of seeds or 
pieces of food on it, crying out, " Why did you run away ? 
Would you not have been better with us? you would 
have made pinole as we do, and if you had not run 
away you would not have become a Fanes," and so on. 
They said that the Fanes was a woman who had run ofl" to 
the mountains and there been changed into a bird by the 
god Chinigchinich. They believed that though they sacrificed 
the bird annually, she came to life again and returned to her 
home in the mountains. Moreover they thought that ^ as 
often as the bird was killed, it became multiplied ; because 
every year all the diflerent Capitanes celebrated the same 
feast of the Panes, and were Arm in the opinion that the 
birds sacrificed were but one and the same female." ^ 

^ Boscana, in Alfred Robinson's Lt/e 
in CaUfomia (New York, 1846), p. 
391 Jf . ; Bancroft, Native Races of the 
Pacific States^ iiL 1 68. The mission 
station of San Juan Capistrano is 
described by Dana {Ttvo Years be/ore 
the Afast^ chaps, xviii. and xxiv.). A 
favoaiable picture of the missions is 
drawn by Langsdorff {Heiu um die 
Wilt^ ii. p. 134 x^^.), but the severe 
discipline of the Spanish monks is 
noticied by other travellers. See Kot- 
sebue, Reise um die Welt (Weimar, 
1830), ii. 42 sqq, ; F. W. Beechey, 
Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific and 
Beerin^s Strait (London, 1831), ii. 
chap. L A poet has described the 
pastoral crook, the carnal arm, by 
which these good shepherds brought 
back their strayed lambs to the spiritual 

" Six horses sprang across the level 
As six dragoons in open order 
dashed ; 
Above their heads the lassos circled 
In every eye a pious fervour 
flashed ; 
They charged the camp, and in one 

moment more 
They lassoed six and reconverted 
(Bret Harte, Friar Pedro's Ride, ) 

In the verses inscribed The Angelus, 
heard at the Mission Dolores, 1868, 
and beginning 

<< Bells ofthePast, whose long-forgotten 
Still fills the wide expanse/' 

the same poet shows that he is not 


The unity in multiplicity thus postulated by the Cali- 
fornians is very noticeable and helps to explain their motive 
for killing the divine bird. The notion of the life of a species 
as distinct from that of an individual, easy and obvious as it 
seems to us, appears to be one which the Californian savage 
cannot grasp. He is unable to conceive the life of the | 
species otherwise than as an individual life, and therefore as 
exposed to the same dangers and calamities which menace 
and finally destroy the life of the individual. Apparently : % 
he thinks that a species left to itself will grow old and die [ 
like an individual, and that therefore some step must be \ 
be taken to save from extinction the particular species which | 
he regards as divine. The only means he can think of to * 
avert the catastrophe is to kill a member of the species in 
whose veins the tide of life is still running strong, and has 
not yet stagnated among the fens of old age. The life thus 
diverted from one channel will flow, he fancies, more freshly 
and freely in a new one ; in other words, the slain animal 
will revive and enter on a new term of life with all the spring 
and energy of yduth. To us this reasoning is transparently 
absurd, but so too is the custom. If a better explanation, 
that is, one more consonant with the facts and with the 
principles of savage thought, can be given of the custom, I 
will willingly withdraw the one here proposed. A similar 
confusion, it may be noted, between the individual life and 
the life of the species was made by the Samoans. Each 
family had for its god a particular species of animal ; yet 
the death of one of these animals, for example an owl, was 
not the death of the god, " he was supposed to be yet alive, 
and incarnate in all the owls in existence." * 

The rude Californian rite which we have just considered 
has a close parallel in the religion of. ancient Egypt The 
Thebans and all other Egyptians who worshipped the Theban 
god Ammon held rams to be sacred, and would not sacrifice 
them. But once a year at the festival of Ammon they killed 
a ram, skinned it, and clothed the image of the god in the 
skin. Then they mourned over the ram and buried it in a 

insensible to the poetical side of those ^ Turner, Samoa, p. 21, cp. pp. 26, 

old Spanish missions, which have long 61. 
passed away. 


sacred tomb. The custom was explained by a story that 
Zeus had once exhibited himself to Hercules clad in the 
fleece and wearing the head of a ram.* Of course the 
ram in this case was simply the beast-god of Thebes, as the 
wolf was the beast -god of Lycopolis, and the goat was 
the beast-god of Mendes. In other words, the ram was 
Ammon himself. On the monuments, it is true, Ammon 
appears in semi-human form with the body of a man and 
the head of a ram.' But this only shows that he was in the 
usual chrysalis state through which beast^ods regularly pass 
before they emerge as full-fledged anthropomorphic gods. 
The ram, therefore, was killed, not as a sacrifice to Ammon, 
but as the god himself, whose identity with the beast is 
plainly shown by the custom of clothing his image in the 
skin of the slain ram. The reason for thus killing the ram- 
god annually may have been that which I have assigned for 
the general custom of killing the god and for the special 
Califomian custom of killing the divine buzzard As applied 
to Egypt, this explanation is supported by the analogy of 
the bull-god Apis, who was not suffered to outlive a certain 
term of years.' The intention of thus putting a limit to the 
life of the god was, as I have argued, to secure him from the 
weakness and frailty of age. The same reasoning would 
explain the custom — probably an older one — of putting the 
beast^od to death annually, as was done with the ram of 

One point in the Theban ritual — ^the application of the 
skin to the image of the god — <leserves special attention. If 
the god was at first the living ram, his representation by an 
image must have originated later. But bow did it originate ? 
The answer to this question is perhaps furnished by the 
practice of preserving the skin of the animal which is slain 
as divine. The Californians, as we have seen, preserved the 
skin of the buzzard ; and the skin of the goat, which is killed 
on the harvest-field as a representative of the corn-spirit, is 
kept for various superstitious purposes.^ The skin in fact 

^ Herodotus, ii. 42. The custom has and Cusiorns of the Ancient Egyptians^ 

been already referred to above, p. 315. Ui. i sqq. (ed. 1878). 

* Ed. Meyer, CeschichU des Alter- ' Above, p. 313. 

MfMWj,i.S58. Cp. Wilkinson, JAi/m^rr ^ Above, pp. 2741^., 277. 

VOL. II 2 B 




was kept as a token or memorial of the god, or rather as 
containing in it a part of the divine life, and it had only to 
be stuffed or stretched upon a frame to become a regular 
image of him. At first an image of this kind would be 
renewed annually,^ the new image being provided by the 
skin of the slain animal. But from annual images to per- 
manent images the transition is easy. We have seen that 
the older custom of cutting a new May-tree every year was 
superseded by the practice of maintaining a permanent May- 
pole, which was, however, annually decked with fresh leaves 
and flowers, and even surmounted each year by a fresh young 
tree.* Similarly when the stuffed skin, as a representative 
of the god, was replaced by a permanent image of him in 
wood, stone, or metal, the permanent image was annually 
clad in the fresh skin of the slain animal. When this stage 
had been reached, the custom of killing the ram came 
naturally to be interpreted as a sacrifice offered to the image, 
and was explained by a story like that of Ammon and 

West Africa furnishes another example of the annual 
killing of a sacred animal and the preservation of its skin. 
The negroes of Issapoo, in the island of Fernando Po, regard 
the cobra-capella as their guardian deity, who can do them 
good or ill, bestow riches or inflict disease . and death. The 
skin of one of these reptiles is hung tail downwards from a 
branch of the highest tree in the public square, and the 
placing of it on the tree is an annual ceremony. As soon 
as the ceremony is over, all children bom within the past 
year are carried out and their hands made to touch the tail 
of the serpent's skin.' The latter custom is clearly a way of 
placing the infants under the protection of the tribal god. 
Similarly in Senegambia a python is expected to visit every 

^ The Italmens of Kamtchatka, at 
the close of the fishing season, used to 
make the figure of a wolf out of grass. 
This figure they carefully kept the 
whole year, believing that it wedded 
with their maidens and prevented them 
from giving birth to twins ; for twins 
were esteemed a great misfortune. See 
Steller, Beschreibung von drm Lande 
Kamtsckaika^ p. 327 sq. According 
to Ilartknoch {Disseriai, kistor, de 

variis rebus Prussicis, p. 163 ; Alt' 
prtussen^ p. 16 1 ) the image of the old 
Prussian god Curcho was annually 
renewed. But see Mannhardt, Dit 
Komddmonen^ p. 27. 

* Above, voL i. p. 204 sq. 

* T. J. Hutchinson, Impressions of 
Western Africa (London, 1858), p. 
196 sq. The writer does not expressly 
state that a serpent is killed annually, 
but his statement implies it. 





child of the Python clan within eight days after birth ; ^ and 
the Psylli, a Snake clan of ancient Africa, used to expose 
their infants to snakes in the belief that the snakes would 
not harm true-born children of the clan.^ 

In the Californian, Egyptian, and Fernando Po customs 
the animal slain may perhaps have been at some time or other 
a totem, but this is very doubtful.' At all events, in all three 
cases the worship of the animal seems to have no relation to 
ag^culture, and may therefore be presumed to date from the 
hunting or pastoral stage of society. The same may be said 
of the following custom, though the people who practise it — 
the Zuni Indians of New Mexico — are now settled in walled 
villages or towns of a peculiar type, and practise agriculture 
and the arts of pottery and weaving. But the Zuni custom 
is marked by certain features which appear to place it in a 
somewhat different category from the preceding cases. It 
may be well therefore to describe it at full length in the 
words of an eye-witness. 

" With midsummer the heat became intense. My brother 
[f>. adopted Indian brother] and I sat, day after day, in the 
cool under-rooms of our house, — the latter [sic] busy with 
his quaint forge and crude appliances, working Mexican 
coins over into bangles, girdles, ear-rings, buttons, and what 
not for savage ornament" "One day as I sat watching 
him, a procession of fifty men went hastily down the hill, 
and off westward over the plain. They were solemnly led 
by a painted and shell-bedecked priest, and followed by the 
torch-bearing Shu-lu-wit-si, or God of Fire. After they had 
vanished, I asked old brother what it all meant 

* /Inme tt Etknographie^ iii. 397. 

' Varro in Priscian, x. 32, vol. i. 
p. 524, ed. Keil ; Pliny, Nat, Hist. 
vii. 14. Pliny's statement is to be 
corrected by Varro's. 

' When I wrote this book originally 
I said that in these three cases '* the 
animal slain probably is, or once was, a 
totem.'* But this seems to me less prob- 
able now than it did then. In regard 
to the Californian custom in particular, 
there appears to be no good evidence 
that within the area now occupied by 
the United States totemism was prac- 
tised by any tribes to the west of the 

Rocky Mountains. See H. Hale, 
United States Exploring Expedition^ 
Ethnography and Philology^ p. 199 ; 
George Gibbs, in Contritions to 
North American Ethnology^ i. 184 ; S. 
Powers, Tribes of California^ p- 5 ; A. 
S. Gatschet, The Klamath Indians of 
South 'Western Oregon, vol. L p. cvi. 
** California and Oregon seem never to 
have had any gentes or phratries *' (A. 
S. Gatschet in a letter to me, dated 
November 5th, 1888). Beyond the' 
very doubtful case cited in the text, I 
know of no evidence that totemism 
exists in Fernando Po. 


" * They are going/ said he, * to the city of the Ka-ka 
and the home of our others/ 

" Four days after, toward sunset, costumed and masked 
in the beautiful paraphernalia of the Ka-k'ok-shi, or * Good 
Dance/ they returned in file up the same pathway, each 
bearing in his arms a basket filled with living, squirming 
turtles, which he regarded and carried as tenderly as a 
mother would her infant Some of the wretched reptiles 
were carefully wrapped in soft blankets, their heads and fore- 
feet protruding, — and, mounted on the backs of the plume- 
bedecked pilgrims, made ludicrous but ^lemn caricatures of 
little children in the same position. While I was at supper 
upstairs that evening, the governor's brother-in-law came in. 
He was welcomed by the family as if a messenger from 
heaven. He bore in his tremulous fingers one of the much 
abused and rebellious turtles. Paint still adhered to his 
hands and bare feet, which led me to infer that he had 
formed one of the sacred embassy. 

** ' So you went to Ka-thlu-el-lon, did you ? ' I asked. 

" * E'e/ replied the weary man, in a voice husky with 
long chanting, as he sank, almost exhausted, on a roll of 
skins which had been placed for him, and tenderly laid the 
turtle on the floor. No sooner did the creature find itself at 
liberty than it made ofl* as fast as its lame legs would take 
it. Of one accord the family forsook dish, spoon, and 
drinking-cup, and grabbing from a sacred meal-bowl whole 
handfuls of the contents, hurriedly followed the turtle about 
the room, into dark comers, around water-jars, behind the 
grinding-troughs, and out into the middle of the floor again^ 
praying and scattering meal on its back as they went. At 
last, strange to say, it approached the foot-sore man who 
had brought it. 

" ' Ha ! ' he exclaimed, with emotion ; * see, it comes to 
me again ; ah, what great favours the fathers of all grant me 
this day/ and, passing his hand gently over the sprawling 
animal, he inhaled from his palm deeply and long, at the 
same time invoking the favour of the gods. Then he leaned 
his chin upon his hand, and with large wistful eyes regarded 
his ugly captive as it sprawled about, blinking its meaU 
bedimmed eyes, and clawing the smooth floor in memory 



of its native element. At this juncture I ventured a ques- 
tion : 

" * Why do you not let him go, or give him some water ? * 
" Slowly the man turned his eyes toward me, an odd 
mixture of pain, indignation, and pity on his face, while the 
worshipful family stared at me with holy horror. 

" * Poor younger brother ! ' he said at last, * know you not 
how precious it is ? It die ? It will not die ; I tell you, it 
cannot die.' 

" * But it will die if you don't feed it and give it water.' 
" * I tell you it cannot die ; it will only change houses to- 
morrow, and go back to the home of its brothers. Ah, 
well 1 How should you know ? ' he mused. Turning to the 
blinded turtle again : ' Ah ! my poor dear lost child or 
parent, my sister or brother to have been ! Who knows 
which ? Maybe my own great-grandfather or mother ! * 
And with this he fell to weeping most pathetically, and, 
tremulous with sobs, which were echoed by the women and 
children, he buried his face in his hands. Filled with 
sympathy for his grief, however mistaken, I raised the turtle 
to my lips and kissed its cold shell ; then depositing it on 
the floor, hastily left the grief- stricken family to their 
sorrows. Next day, with prayers and tender beseechings, 
plumes, and offerings, the poor turtle was killed, and its flesh 
and bones were removed and deposited in the little river, 
that it might 'return once more to eternal life among its 
comrades in the dark waters of the lake of the dead.' The 
shell, carefully scraped and dried, was made into a dance- 
rattle, and, covered by a piece of buckskin, it still hangs 
from the smoke-stained rafters of my brother's house. Once 
a Navajo tried to buy it for a ladle ; loaded with indignant 
reproaches, he was turned out of the house. Were any one 
to venture the suggestion that the turtle no longer lived, his 
remark would cause a flood of tears, and he would be re- 
minded that it had only ' changed houses and gone to live 
for ever in the home of " our lost others." ' " * 

In this custom we And expressed in the clearest way a 
belief in the transmigration of human souls into the bodies 

> Frank H. Gushing, "My Adven- trated Mtmihly Magazine, May 1883, 
turcs in Zuni," The Century lilus- p. 45 jr^. 




of turtles.^ The theory of transmigration is held by the 
Moqui Indians, who belong to the same race as the Zunis. 
The Moquis are divided into totem clans — the Bear clan, 
Deer clan, Wolf clan, Hare clan, and so on ; they believe that 
the ancestors of the clans were bears, deer, wolves, hares, and 
so forth ; and that at death the members of each clan become 
bears, deer, and so on according to the particular clan to which 
they belonged.* The Zuni are also divided into clans, the 
totems of which agree closely with those of the Moquis, and one 
of their totems is the turtle.' Thus their belief in transmigra- 
tion into the turtle is probably one of the regular articles of 
their totem faith.^ What then is the meaning of killing a 
turtle in which the soul of a kinsman is believed to be 
present ? Apparently the object is to keep up a communi- 
cation with the other world in which the souls of the 
departed are believed to be assembled in the form of 
turtles. It is a common belief that the spirits of the dead 
return occasionally to their old homes ; and accordingly the 
unseen visitors are welcomed and feasted by the living, and 
then sent upon their way.* In the Zuni ceremony the dead 
are fetched home in the form of turtles, and the killing of the 
turtles is the way of sending back the souls to the spirit- 
land. Thus the general explanation given above of the 
custom of killing a god seems inapplicable to the Zuni 
custom, the true meaning of which is somewhat obscure. 

Doubt also hangs at first sight over the meaning of the 
bear-sacrifice offered by the Ainos, a primitive people who 

^ Mr. Gushing, indeed, while he 
admits that the ancestors of the Zuni 
may have believed in transmigration, 
says, "Their belief, to-day, however, 
relative to the future life is spiritual- 
istic** But the expressions in the text 
seem to leave no room for doubting 
that the transmigration into turtles is a 
living article of Zuni faith. 

s Schoolcraft, Indian Tribes^ iv. 86. 
On the totem clans of the Moquis, see 
J. G. Bourke, Snake ^ Dance of the 
Moquis of Arizona^ pp. Ii6 jy., 334 

' For this information I am indebted 
to the kindness of the late Gaptain J. 
G. Bourke, 3rd Gavalry, U.S. Army, 
author of the work mentioned in the 

preceding note. In his letter Gaptain 
Bourke gave a list of fourteen totem 
clans of Zuni, which he received on the 
20th of May 1 88 1 from Pedro Dino (?), 
Governor of ZunL 

^ It should be observed, however, 
that Mr. Gushing omits to say whether 
or not the persons who performed the 
ceremony described by him had the 
turtle for their totem. If they had not, 
the ceremony need not have had any- 
thing to do with totemism. 

^ The old Prussian and Japanese 
customs are typical. For the former, 
sec above, vol. i. p. 351. For the 
latter, see below, vol. iii. p. 86 sq. A 
general account of such customs must 
be reserved for another work. 





are found in the Japanese islands of Yesso and Saghalien, 
and also in the southern of the Kurile Islands. It is not 
quite easy to make out the attitude of the Ainos towards the 
bear. On the one hand they give it the name of kamui or 
" god " ; but as they apply the same word to strangers,^ it 
probably means no more than a being supposed to be 
endowed with superhuman, or at all events extraordinary, 
powers.^ Again, it is said " the bear is their chief divinity " ; * 
" in the religion of the Ainos the bear plays a chief part " ; * 
'* amongst the animals it is especially the bear which receives 
an idolatrous veneration " ; * " they worship it after their 
fashion " ; " there is no doubt that this wild beast inspires 
more of the feeling which prompts worship than the inani- 
mate forces of nature, and the Ainos may be distinguished 
as bear-worshippers." • Yet, on the other hand, they kill the 
bear whenever they can ; ^ ^' the men spend the autumn, 
winter, and spring in hunting deer and bears. Part of their 
. tribute or taxes is paid in skins, and they subsist on the 
dried meat " ; * beards flesh is indeed one of their staple 
foods ; they eat it both fresh and salted ; ^ and the skins of 
bears furnish them with clothing.^® In fact, the " worship " 
of which writers on this subject speak appears to be paid 

^ B. Scheube, ' * Der Baerencultus und 
die Baerenfeste der Ainos," MittheU- 
ungenderdeutschen Gesellschaft b, S, und 
S. OstasUns (Yokmma), Heft xxiL p. 45. 

* We are told tliat the Aino has gods 
for almost every conceivable object, and 
that the word kamui <*has various 
shades of meaning, which vary if used 
before or after another word, and 
according to the object to which it is 
applied.** *'When the \<cTm kamui \^ 
applied to good objects, it expresses the 
quality of usefulness, beneficence, or of 
being exalted or divine. When applied 
to supposed evil gods, it indicates that 
which is most to be feared and dreaded. 
When applied to devils, reptiles, and 
evil diseases, it signifies what is most 
hateful, abominable, and repulsive. 
When applied as a prefix to animals, 
fish or fowl, it represents the greatest 
or fiercest, or the most useful for food 
or clothing. When applied to persons, 
it is sometimes expressive of goodness, 

but more often is a mere title of respect 
and reverence.'* See J. Batchelor, The 
Ainu tf Japan^ pp. 245-251. Thus 
the Aino iaimff appears to mean nearly 
the same as the Dacotan wakan^ as to 
which see vol. i. p. 343, note 2. 

» W. Martin Wood, "The Hairy 
Men of Yesso,** Transactions of the 
Ethnological Society of London^ N.S., 
iv. (1866), p. 36. 

^ Rein, Japan^ i. 446. 

^ H. von Sxf^ixMi^Ethnologiscke Stu- 
dien iiber die Aino auf der Insel Yesso 
(Berlin, 1 881), p. 26. 

* Miss Bird, Unheaien Tracks in 
Japan (new ed. 1885), p. 275. 

7 Trans, Ethnd. Soc. l,c, 
> Miss Bird, op, cit, p. 269. 

* Scheube, Die Ainos, p. 4 (reprinted 
from Afittkeilungen d, deutsck. GeselL 
b. S, und S, Ostasiens, Yokama). 

" Scheube, " Baerencultus,** etc, p. 
45 ; Joest, in Verhandlungen d. Berliner 
GeselL f. Anthropologic, 1882, p. 188. 




only to the dead animal. Thus, although they kill a bear 
whenever they can, " in the process of dissecting the carcass 
they endeavour to conciliate the deity, whose representative 
they have slain, by making elaborate obeisances and depre- 
catory salutations " ; * " when a bear has been killed the 
Ainu sit down and admire it, and make their salaams to 
it " ; * " when a bear is trapped or wounded by an arrow, the 
hunters go through an apologetic or propitiatory ceremony." • 
The skulls of slain bears receive a place of honour in their 
huts, or are set up on sacred posts outside the huts, and are 
treated with much respect ; libations of sake^ an intoxicating 
liquor, are offered to them/ The skulls of foxes are also 
fastened to the sacred posts outside the huts ; they are re- 
garded as charms against evil spirits, and are consulted as 
oracles.* Yet it is expressly said, " The live fox is revered 
just as little as the bear ; rather they avoid it as much as 
possible, considering it a wily animal." ^ The bear cannot, 
therefore, be described as a sacred animal of the Ainos, and 
it certainly is not a totem ; for they do not call themselves 
bears, they appear to have no legend of their descent from a 
bear/ and they kill and eat the animal freely. 

But it is the bear-festival of the Ainos which concerns 
us here. Towards the end of winter a young bear is caught 
and brought into the village. At first he is suckled by an 
Aino woman ; afterwards he is fed on fish. When he 
grows so strong that he threatens to break out of the wooden 
cage in which he is confined, the feast is held. But ** it is a 
peculiarly striking fact that the young bear is not kept 
merely to furnish a good meal ; rather he is r^[arded and 
honoured as a fetish, or even as a sort of higher being." • 

* Trans. Ethnol. Soc. Lc. 

> J. Batchelor, Tki Ainu ef Japan 

(London, 1892), p. 162. 

3 Miss Bird, op. cit. p. 277. 

^ Scbenbe, Die Ainos ^ P- '5 • Sie- 

bold, op. cit. p. 26 ; Trans. Ethnol. 

Soc. I.e. ; Rein, Japan^ i. 447 ; Von 

Brandt, <* The Ainos and Japanese," 

Journ. Anthrop. Inst, iii. (1 874), p. 

134 ; Miss Bird, op. cit. pp. 275, 276. 

^ Scheube, Dit Ainos^ pp. 15, 16; 

Journ. Anthrop. Inst. iii. (1 874), p. 134. 

* Scheube, Die Ainos ^ p. 16. 

7 Reclns {Noavelle Ghgrapkie Uni- 
verselU^ ▼»• 755) mentions a (Japanese?) 
legend which attributes the hairiness of 
the Ainos to the suckling of their first 
ancestor by a bear. But in the absence 
of other evidence this u no proof of 

> Rein.ya/oif, L 447. Mr. Batchelor 
denies that the bear-cubs are suckled 
by the women. lie says : ** During 
five years' sojourn amongst, and almost 
daily intercourse with, them — living 
with them in their own huts — I have 





The festival is generally celebrated in September or October. 
Before it takes place the Ainos apologise to their gods, 
alleging that they have treated the bear kindly as long as 
they could, now they can feed him no longer, and are 
obliged to kill him. A man who gives a bear-feast invite3 
his relations and friends ; in a small village nearly the whole 
community takes part in the feast One of these festivals 
has been described by an eye-witness, Dr. Scheube.^ On 
entering the hut he found about thirty Ainos present, men, 
women, and children, all dressed in their best. The master 
of the house first offered a libation on the fireplace to the 
god of the fire, and the guests followed his example. Then 
a libation was offered to the house-god in his sacred comer 
of the hut Meanwhile the housewife, who had nursed the 
bear, sat by herself, silent and sad, bursting now and then 
into tears. Her grief was obviously unaffected, and it 
deepened as the festival went on. Next, the master of the 
house and some of the guests went out of the hut and 
offered libations before the bear's cage. A few drops were 
presented to the bear in a saucer, which he at once upset. 
Then the women and girls danced round the cage, their 
faces turned towards it, their knees slightly bent, rising and 
hopping on their toes. As they danced they clapped their 
hands and sang a monotonous song. The housewife and a 
few old women, who might have nursed many bears, danced 
tearfully, stretching out their arms to the bear, and address- 
ing it in terms of endearment The young folks were less 
affected ; they laughed as well as sang. Disturbed by the 
noise, the bear began to rush about his cage and howl 
lamentably. Next libations were offered at the inabos or 
sacred wands which stand outside of an Aino hut. These 
wands are about a couple of feet high, and are whittled at 
the top into spiral shavings.* Five new wands with bamboo 

never once witnessed anything; of the 
sort, nor can I find a single Ainu man 
or woman who has seen it done '* {The 
Ainu 9f Japan^ p. 173). But as a 
Christian missionary Mr. Batchelorwas 
perhaps not likely to hear of such a 
custom, if it existed. 

' "Der Baerencultus,'* etc.; for 
the full title of the work see above, 

P- 375» no^« '• 

' Scheulw, '* Baerencultus,** etc., p. 

46; icL^Die Ainos^ P> 'S* ^^ Bird, 

op, €it, p. 273 sq. These inabos or 

inao are not gods but sacred offerings to 

gods ; they are made on almost every 

occasion when prayer is offered. S^ 

J. Batchelor, The Ainu of Japan ^ pp. 




leaves attached to them had been set up for the festival. 
This is regularly done when a bear is killed ; the leaves 
mean that the animal may come to life again. Then the bear 
was let out of his cage, a rope was thrown round his neck, I 
and he was led about in the neighbourhood of the hut. 
While this was being done the men, headed by a chief, shot 
at the beast with arrows tipped with wooden buttons. Dr. 
Scheube had to do so also. Then the bear was taken before 
the sacred wands, a stick was put in his mouth, nine men I y 
knelt on him and pressed his neck against a beam. In 
five minutes the animal had expired without uttering a sound. 
Meantime the women and girls had taken post behind the ( 
men, where they danced, lamenting, and beating the men 
who were killing the bear. The bear's carcass was next 
placed on a mat before the sacred wands ; and a sword and 
quiver, taken from the wands, were hung round the beast's 
neck. Being a she-bear, it was also adorned with a necklace 
and ear-rings. Then food and drink were offered to it, in 
the shape of millet-broth, millet-cakes, and a pot of sake. 
The men now sat down on mats before the dead bear, 
offered libations to it, and drank deep. Meanwhile the 
women and girls had laid aside all marks of sorrow, and 
danced merrily, none more merrily than the old women. 
When the mirth was at its height two young Ainos, who 
had let the bear out of his cage, mounted the roof of the 
hut and threw cakes of millet among the company, who all 
scrambled for them without distinction of* age or sex. The 
bear was next skinned and disembowelled, and the trunk 
severed from the head, to which the skin was left hanging. 
The blood, caught in cups, was eagerly swallowed by the 
men. None of the women or children appeared to drink the 
blood, though custom did not forbid them to do so. The 
liver was cut in small pieces and eaten raw, with salt, the 
women and children getting their share. The flesh and the 
rest of the vitals were taken into the house to be kept till 
the next day but one, and then to be divided among the 
persons who had been present at the feast Blood and liver 
were offered to Dr. Scheube. While the bear was being dis- 
embowelled, the women and girls danced the same dance 
which they had danced at the beginning — not, however, 




round the cage, but in front of the sacred wands. At this 
dance the old women, who had been merry a moment before, 
again shed tears freely. After the brain had been extracted 
from the bear*s head and swallowed with salt, the skull, 
detached from the skin, was hung on a pole beside the 
sacred wands. The stick with which the bear had been 
gagged was also fastened to the pole, and so were the sword 
and quiver which had been hung on the carcass. The latter 
were removed in about an hour, but the rest remained stand- 
ing. The whole company, men and women, danced noisily 
before the pole ; and another drinking-bout, in which the 
women joined, closed the festival. 

The mode of killing the bear is described somewhat 
diflerently by Miss Bird, who, however, did not witness the 
ceremony. She says : " Yells and shouts are used to excite 
the bear ; and when he becomes much agitated a chief 
shoots him with an arrow, inflicting a slight wound which 
maddens him, on which the bars of the cage are raised, and 
he springs forth, very furious. At this stage the Ainos run 
upon him with various weapons, each one striving to inflict 
a wound, as it brings good luck to draw his blood. As 
soon as he falls down exhausted his head is cut ofl*, and the 
weapons with which he has been wounded are oflered to it, 
and he is asked to avenge himself upon them." At Usu, 
on Volcano Bay, when the bear is being killed, the Ainos 
shout, "We kill you, O bear! come back soon into an 
Aino." ^ A very respectable authority. Dr. Siebold, states 
that the bear's own heart is frequently offered to the dead 
animal, in order to assure him that he is still in life.^ This, 
however, is denied by Dr. Scheube, who says the heart is 
eaten.' The custom may be observed in some places, 
though not in others. 

1 Miss Bird, op, cii, p. 276 sq. Miss 
Bird's information must be received with 
caution, as there are grounds for be- 
lieving that her informant deceived her. 
Mr. Batchelor, a much better authority, 
agrees with Dr. Scheube in saying that 
aHer the bear has been maddened by 
being shot at with blunt arrows he is 
choked to death by men who squeeze 
his neck between two poles. See J. 
Batchelor, The Ainu rf Japan ^ p. 1 76 

sq. Before the bear is let out of his 
cage a man tells the beast that it is 
about to be sent to its forefathers, craves 
pardon for what is about to be done, 
hopes that the animal will not be angry, 
and consoles it by saying that plenty 
of wine and of whittled sticks will be 
sent with it (op. tit, p. 175/^.). 

' Siebold, Etknolog, Stttdun uber 
die Aitto^ p. 26. 

s ** Baerencultus,** etc., p. 50, note. 

38o AINO AND GILYAK chap. 

Perhaps the first published account of the bear-feast of 
the Ainos is one which was given to the world by a Japanese 
writer in 1652. It has been translated into French and runs 
thus : " When they find a young bear, they bring it home, jf 

and the wife suckles it. When it is grown they feed it with \ 

fish and fowl and kill it in winter for the sake of the liver, ; 

which they esteem an antidote to poison, the worms, colic, '• 

and disorders of the stomach. It is of a very bitter taste, \ 

and is good for nothing if the bear has been killed in 
summer. This butchery begins in the first Japanese month. 
For this purpose they put the animal's head between two [ 

long poles, which are squeezed together by fifty or sixty | 

people, both men and women. When the bear is dead 
they eat his fiesh, keep the liver as a medicine, and sell the 
skin, which is black and commonly six feet long, but the 
longest measure twelve feet As soon as he is skinned, the 
persons who nourished the beast begin to bewail him ; 
afterwards they make little cakes to regale those who 
helped them." ^ 

The Gilyaks, a Tunguzian people of Eastern Siberia,* 
hold a bear-festival of the same sort "The bear is the 
object of the most refined solicitude of an entire village and 
plays the chief part in their religious ceremonies." • An old 
she-bear is shot and her cub is reared, but not suckled, in 
the village. When the bear is big enough he is taken from 
his cage and dragged through the village. But first they 
lead him to the bank of the river, for this is believed to ensure 
abundance of fish to each family. He is then taken into 
every house in the village, where fish, brandy, and so forth 
are offered to him. Some people prostrate themselves 
before the beast. His entrance into a house is supposed to 
bring a blessing ; and if he snuffs at the food offered to 
him, this also is a blessing. Nevertheless they tease and 
worry, poke and tickle the animal continually, so that he is 

' *' leso-Ki, ou description de Itle lower Amoor and the north of .Sa- 

d*Iesso, avec une notice sur la revolte ghalien. See E. G. Ravenstein, The 

de Samsay-in, compost par I'inter- Russians on the Amur^ p. 389. 

pr^te Kannemon,** printed in Malte- ' ** Notes on the River Amur and 

'^T>iv^% Annates des Voyages yxx\\, (Paris, the adjacent districts,*' translated from 

181 4), p. 154. X^t 'Ru^xzn^/ottmal of the Royal Ceogr, 

' They inhabit the banks of the Society, xxviii. (1858), p. 396. 





surly and snappish.^ After being thus taken to every 
house, he is tied to a peg and shot dead with arrows. His 
head is then cut off, decked with shavings, and placed on 
the table where the feast is set out. Here they beg pardon 
of the beast and worship him. Then his flesh is roasted 
and eaten in special vessels of wood finely carved. They 
do not eat the flesh raw nor drink the blood, as the Ainos 
do. The brain and entrails are eaten last ; and the skull, 
still decked with shavings, is placed on a tree near the 
house. Then the people sing and both sexes dance in 
ranks, as bears.^ 

One of these bear-festivals was witnessed by the Russian 
traveller L. von Schrenck and his companions at the Gilyak 
village of Tebach in January 1856. From his detailed 
report of the ceremony we may gather some particulars 
which are not noticed in the briefer accounts which I have 
just sumiparised. The bear, he tells us, plays a great part 
in the life of all the peoples inhabiting the region of the 
Amoor and Siberia as far as Kamtchatka, but among none 
of them is his importance greater than among the Gilyaks. 
The immense size which the animal attains in the valley of 
the Amoor, his ferocity whetted by hunger, and the fre- 
quency of his appearance all combine to make him the most 
dreaded beast of prey in the country. No wonder, therefore, 
that the fancy of the Gilyaks is busied with him and sur- 
rounds him, both in life and in death, with a sort of halo of 
superstitious fear. Thus, for example, it is thought that if 
a Gilyak falls in combat with a bear, his soul transmigrates 

^ Compare the custom of pinching 
the frog before cuttingoff his head, above, 
vol. L p. 219. In Japan sorceresses 
bury a dog in the earth, tease him, 
then cut off his head and put it in a 
box to be used in magic See Bastian, 
DU Culiurlander des alien Amerika^ i. 
475 note, who adds "tc^ im ostin- 
dischen Arehipeiai^o die Schutzseele 
gereixt wtrd" He probably refers 
to the Batta Pangkulu-bedang, ' See 
Rosenberg, Der Maiayische Archi^ly 
p. 59 sq, ; W. Kodding, « Die Batak- 
schen Gotter,*' Aligemeine Alissions- 
Zeiischrijft^ xil (1885), p. 478 sq, ; Neu- 
mann, *' Het Pane- en Bila-stroomgebied 

op het eiland Sumatra," in Tijdschrift 
van het Nederl, Aardrijks. Cenootsck. 
TweedeSerie, dl. iii. (1886), Afdeeling, 
meer uitgebreide artikelen. No. 2, p. 
306; Van Dijk, in Tijdschnft voor 
Indische Taal' Land- en Volkenktmde^ 
zxzviii. (1895), p. 307 sq, 

* VV. Joest, in Scheube, Die Ainos^ 
p. 17 ; Revue d* Etkncgrapkie^ iL 307 
sq, (on the authority of Mr. Seeland) ; 
Internationales Archiv fUr Ethnohgie^ 
i. 102 (on the authority of Captain 
Jacobsen). What exactly is meant by 
"dancing as bears" {**fanzen beide 
Cesch/echter Reigentdnze, wie Baren,** 
Joest, l,c,) does not appear. 


into the body of the beast. Nevertheless his flesh has an 
irresistible attraction for the Gilyak palate, especially when 
the animal has been kept in captivity for some time and 
fattened on fish, which gives the flesh, in the opinion of the 
Gilyaks, a peculiarly delicious flavour. But in order to 
enjoy this dainty with impunity they deem it needful to 
perform a long series of ceremonies, of which the intention 
is to delude the living bear by a show of respect, and to 
appease the anger of the dead animal by the homage paid 
to his departed spirit. The marks of respect begin as soon 
as the beast is captured. He is brought home in triumph 
and kept in a cage, where all the villagers take it in turns 
to feed him. For although he may have been captured or 
purchased by one man, he belongs in a manner to the 
whole village. His flesh will furnish a common feast, and 
hence all must contribute to support him in his life. His 
diet consists exclusively of raw or dried fish, water, and a 
sort of porridge compounded of powdered fish-skins, train- 
oil, and whortle-berries. The length of time he is kept in 
captivity depends on his age. Old bears are kept only a 
few months ; cubs are kept till they are full-grown. A j 

thick layer of fat on the captive bear gives the signal for I 
the festival, which is always held in winter, generally in 
December but sometimes in January or February. At the 
festival witnessed by the Russian travellers, which lasted a 
good many days, three bears were killed and eaten. More 
than once the animals were led about in procession and 
compelled to enter every house in the village, where they 
were fed as a mark of honour, and to show that they were 
welcome guests. But before the beasts set out on this 
round of visits, the Gilyaks played at skipping-rope in 
presence, and perhaps, as L. von Schrenck inclined to 
believe, in honour of the animals. The night before they 
were killed, the three bears were led by moonlight a long 
way on the ice of the frozen river. That night no one in the 
village might sleep. Next day, after the animals had been 
again led down the steep bank to the river, and conducted 
thrice round the hole in the ice from which the women of 
the village drew their water, they were taken to an ap- 
pointed place not far from the village, and shot to death 



iix OF THE BEAR 383 

with arrows. The place of sacrifice or execution was 
marked as holy by being surrounded with whittled sticks, 

\ from the tops of which shavings hung in curls. Such sticks 
are with the Gilyaks, as with the Ainos, the regular symbols 

j that accompany all religious ceremonies. Before the bears 
received the fatal shafts from two young men chosen for the 
purpose, the boys were allowed to discharge their small but 
not always harmless arrows at the beasts. As soon as the' 
carcasses had been cut up, the skins with the heads attached 
to them were set up in a wooden cage in such a way as to 
make it appear that the animals had entered the cage and 
were looking out of it. The blood which flowed from the 
bears on the spot where they were killed was immediately 
covered up with snow, to prevent any one from accidentally 
treading on it, a thing which was strictly tabooed. 

When the house has been arranged and decorated for 
their reception, the skins of the bears, with their heads 
attached to them, are brought into it, not however by the 
door, but through a window, and then hung on a sort of 
scaflbld opposite the hearth on which the flesh is to be 
cooked. This ceremony of bringing the bears' skins into 
the house by the window was not witnessed by the Russian 
travellers, who only learned of it at second hand. They 
were told that when the thin disc of flsh-skin, which is the 
substitute for a pane of glass in the window, has been re- 
placed after the ps^ssage of the bear-skins, a figure of a 
toad made of birch bark is affixed to it on the outside, 
while inside the house a figure of a bear dressed in Gilyak 
costume is set on the bench of honour. The meaning of this 
part of the ceremony, as it is conjecturally interpreted by 
Von Schrenck, may be as follows. The toad is a creature 
that has a very evil reputation with the Gilyaks, and 
accordingly they attempt to lay upon it, as on a scapegoat, 
the guilt of the slaughter of the worshipful bear. Hence 
its effigy is excluded from the house and has to remain 
outside at the window, a witness of its own misdeeds ; 
whereas the bear is brought into the house and treated as 
an honoured guest, for fish and flesh are laid before it, and 
its effigy, dressed in Gilyak costume, is seated on the bench 
of honour. 



384 GIL YA K SA CRIFICE chai». 

The boiling of the bear's flesh among the Gilyaks is 
done only by the oldest men, whose high privilege it is ; 
women and children, young men and boys have no part in 
it The task is performed slowly and deliberately, with a \ 
certain solemnity. On the occasion described by the 
Russian travellers the kettle was first of all surrounded with 
a thick wreath of shavings, and then filled with snow, for 
the use of water to cook bear's flesh is tabooed. Meanwhile 
a large wooden trough, richly adorned with arabesques and . 

carvings of all sorts, was hung immediately under the snouts 
of the bears ; on one side of the trough was carved in relief 
a bear, on the other side a toad. When the carcasses were I 
being cut up, each leg was laid on the ground in front of j 
the bears, as if to ask their leave, before being placed in the j 
kettle : and the boiled flesh was fished out of the kettle I 
with an iron hook, and placed in the trough before the \ 
bears, in order that they might be the first to taste of their 
own flesh. As fast, too, as the fat was cut in strips it was j 
hung up in front of the bears, and afterwards placed in a 
small wooden trough on the ground before them. Last of 
all the inner organs of the beasts were cut up and placed 
in small vessels. At the same time the women made 
bandages out of parti-coloured rags, and after sunset these 
bandages were tied round the bears' snouts just below the 
eyes " in order to dry the tears that flowed from them." 
To each bandage, just below the eyes, was attached a figfure 
of a toad cut out of birch bark. The meaning of this 
appears to be, as Von Schrenck conjectured", as follows. 
With the carving of his inner organs, the heart, liver, and 
so forth, the bear sees that his fate is sealed, and sheds 
some natural tears at his hard lot. These tears trickle 
down his snout over the figure of the toad, which the poor 
deluded bear accordingly regards as the author of all the 
mischief. For he cannot blame the Gilyaks, who have 
treated him so kindly. Have they not received him as a 
g^uest in their house, set him on the seat of honour, given 
him of their best, and done nothing but with his knowledge 
and permission ? Finally, have not their women shown 
him the last delicate mark of attention by drying the tears 
that flow from his eyes and trickle down his nose ? Surely 



then he cannot think that these kindly folk have done him 
any harm ; it was all the fault of the unprincipled toad. 

Whatever may be thought of this explanation, as soon 
as the ceremony of wiping away poor bruin's tears had been 
performed, the assembled Gilyaks set to work in earnest 
to devour his flesh. The broth obtained by boiling the 
meat had already been partaken of. The wooden bowls, 
platters, and spoons out of which the Gilyaks eat the broth 
and flesh of the bears on these occasions are always made 
specially for the purpose at the festival and only then ; they 
are elaborately ornamented with carved figures of bears and 
other devices that refer to the animal or the festival, and 
the people have a strong superstitious scruple against parting 
with them. While the festival lasts, no salt may be used 
in cooking the bear's flesh or indeed any other food ; and 
no flesh of any kind may be roasted, for the bear would 
hear the hissing and sputtering of the roasting flesh, and 
would be very angry. After the bones had been picked 
clean they were put back in the kettle in which the flesh 
had been. boiled. And when the festal meal was over, an 
old man took his stand at the door of the house with a 
branch of flr in his hand, with which, as the people passed 
out, he gave a light blow to every one who had eaten of the 
bear's flesh or fat, perhaps as a punishment for their treat- 
ment of the worshipful animal. In the afternoon of the 
same day the women performed a strange dance. Only one 
woman danced at a time, throwing the upper part of her 
body into the oddest postures, while she held in her hands 
a branch of fir or a kind of wooden castanets. The other 
women meanwhile played an accompaniment in a peculiar 
rhythm by drumming on the beams of the house with clubs. 
The dance reminded one of the Russian travellers of the bear- 
dance which he had seen danced by the women of Kamt- 
chatka. Von Schrenck believes, though he has not positive 
evidence, that after the fat and flesh of the bear have been 
consumed, his skull is cleft with an axe, and the brain taken 
out and eaten. Then the bones and the skull are solemnly 
carried out by the oldest people to a place in the forest 
not far from the village. There all the bones except the 
skull are buried. After that a young tree is felled a few inches 

VOL. II 2 c 




above the ground, its stump cleft, and the skull wedged into 
the cleft. When the grass grows over the spot, the skull 
disappears from view, and that is the end of the bear.^ 

The Goldi, neighbours of the Gilyaks, treat the bear in 
much the same way. They hunt and kill it ; but sometimes 
they capture a live bear and keep him in a cage, feeding him 
well and calling him their son and brother. Then at a great 
festival he is taken from his cage, paraded about with 
marked consideration, and afterwards killed and eaten. 
•* The : skull, jaw-bones, and ears are then suspended on a 
tree, as an antidote against evil spirits ; but the flesh is eaten 
and much relished, for they believe that all who partake of 
it acquire a zest for the chase, and become courageous." * 

The Orotchis, another Tunguzian people of the region 
of the Amoor, hold bear festivals of the same general 
character. Any one who catches a bear cub considers it his 
bounden duty to rear it in a cage for about three years, in 
order at the end of that time to kill it publicly and eat the 
flesh with his friends. The feasts being public, though 
organised by individuals, the people try to have one in 
each Orotchi village every year in turn. When the bear 
is taken out of his cage, he is led about by means of 
ropes to all the huts, accompanied by people armed with 
lances, bows, and arrows. At each hut the bear and 
bear-leaders are treated to something good to eat and 
drink. This goes on for several days until all the huts, not 
only in that village but also in the next, have been visited. 
The days are given up to sport and noisy jollity. Then the 
bear is tied to a tree or wooden pillar and shot to death by 
the arrows of the crowd, after which its flesh is roasted and 
eaten. Among the Orotchis of the Tundja River women 
take part in the bear-feasts, while among the Orotchis of 
the River Vi the women will not even touch bear's flesh.* 

' L. TOO Schrenck, Ret sen und 
Forschungen im Amitr-landt^ iii. 696- 


* Ravenstein, The Rtissituts on the 

Amur, p. 379 sq. ; T. W. Atkinson, 
Travels in the Regions of the Upper 
and Lower Amoor (London, i860), p. 
482 sq. 

* £. H. Fraser, <«The fish-skin 

TviTXVitSy^ Journal of the China Branch 
of the Royal Asiatic Society for the year 
1891 • 1892, New Series, xxvi. 36- 
39. L. von Schrenck de!>cril>es a 
bear-feast which he witnessed in 1855 
among the Oltscha (Reisen umi For* 
schungen im Amtir-lande^ iii. 723-728). 
The Oltscha are probably the same ns 
the Orotchis. 



In the treatment of the captive bear by these tribes there 
are features which can hardly be distinguished from worship. 
Such in particular is the Gilyak custom of leading him from 
house to house, that every family may receive his blessing — 
a custom parallel to the European one of taking a May-tree 
or a personal representative of the tree-spirit from door to 
door in spring, in order that all may share the fresh energies 
of reviving nature. Again the expected resurrection of the 
bear is avowedly indicated by the bamboo leaves and by the 
prayer addressed to him to " come back soon into an Aino." 
And that the eating of his flesh is regarded as a sacrament 
is made probable by the Gilyak custom of reserving special 
vessels to hold the bear's flesh on this solemn occasion. 

How is the reverence thus paid to particular bears to be 
reconciled with the fact that bears in general are habitually 
hunted and killed by these tribes for the sake of their, flesh 
and skins ? On the one hand, the bear is treated as a god ; 
on the other hand, as a creature wholly subservient to hunian 
needs. The apparent contradiction vanishes when we place 
ourselves at the savage point of view. The savage, we must 
remember, believes that animals are endowed with feelings and 
intelligence like those of men, and that, like men, they possess 
souls which survive the death of their bodies either to wander 
about as disembodied spirits or to be born again in animal form. 
Thus, for example, we are told that the Indian of Guiana 
does not see " any sharp line of distinction, such as we see, 
between man and other animals, between one kind of animal 
and other, or between animals — man included — and inanimate 
objects. On the contrary, to the Indian, all objects, animate 
and inanimate, seem exactly of the same nature except that 
they diflfer in the accident of bodily form. Every object in 
the whole world is a being, consisting of a body and spirit, 
and differs from every other object in no respect except that 
of bodily form, and in the greater or less degfree of brute 
power and brute cunning consequent on the difference of 
bodily form and bodily habits." * Even the distinction of 
bodily form seems almost to elude the dull intellect of some 
savages. An unusually intelligent Bushman questioned by a 
missionary "could not state any difference between a man and 


' E. F. im Thurn, Among the Indians of Guiana^ p. 350. 




a Ixute — he did not know but a buffalo might shoot with bows 
and arrows as well as a man, if it had them." ^ Nor is it merely 
that in the mental fog the savage takes beasts for men ; he 
seems to be nearly as ready to take himself and his fellows 
for beasts. When the Russians first landed on one of the 
Alaskan islands the people took them for cuttle-fish, " on 
account of the buttons on their clothes." * We have seen 
how some savs^es identify themselves with animals of various 
sorts by eating the maggots bred in the rotting carcasses of 
the beastSy and how thereafter, when occasion serves, they 
behave in their adopted characters by wriggling, roaring, 
barking, or grunting, according as they happen to be boa*^ 
constrictors, lions, jackals, or hippopotamuses.' In the 
island of Mabuiag men of the Sam, that is, the Cassowary, 
totem think that cassowaries are men or nearly so. ^ Sam 
he all same as relation, he belong same family," is the account 
they give of their kinship with the creature. Conversely they 
hold that they themselves are cassowaries, or at all events 
that they possess some of the qualities of the long-legged 
bird. When a Cassowary man went forth to reap laurels on 
the field of battle, he used to reflect with satisfaction on the 
length of his lower limbs : " My 1^ is long and thin, I can 
run and not feel tired ; my l^s will go quickly and the grass 
will not entangle them."^ Omaha Indians believe that 
between a man and the creature which is his personal totem 
there subsists so close a bond that the man acquires the 
powers and qualities, the virtues and defects of the animal. 
Thus if a man has seen a bear in that vision at puberty 
which determines an Indian's personal totem, he will be apt 
to be wounded in battle, -because the bear is a slow and 
clumsy animal and easily trapped. If he has dreamed of an 
eagle, he will be able to see into the future and foretell 
coming events, because the eagle's vision is keen and 
piercing.^ The Bororos, a tribe of Indians in the heart 

' John Campbell, TnxoeU m South 
Africa^ being a Narrative if a Second 
Jmtnuy in tJu Interior of that Conntry^ 
ii 34. 

* l,VtXxof(t Report onike Population^ 
Industries f and Resources ef Alaska^ 
p. 145. » Above, p. 353 sq. 

^ A. C. Haddoo, <• The Ethno- 

graphy of the Western Tribe of Torres 
^Mij^V^ Journal of the Anthropological 
Institute^ xix. (1890), p. 393. 

* Miss Alice C. Fletcher, The import 
if the totem^ a study from the Omaha 
tribe^ p. 6 (paper read before the 
American Association for the Advance- 
ment of Science, August 1897). 



of Brazil, will have it that they are birds of a gorgeous red 
plumage which live in the Brazilian forest. It is not merely 
that their souls will pass into these birds at death, but they 
are actually identical with them in their life, and accordingly 
they treat the birds as they might treat their fellow-tribes- 
men, keeping them in captivity, refusing to eat their flesh, 
and mourning for them when they die. However, they kill 
the wild birds for their feathers, and, though they will not 
kill, they pluck the tame ones to deck their own naked brown 
bodies with the gaudy plumage of their feathered brethren.* 
Thus to the savage, who regards all living creatures as 
practically on a footing of equality with man, the act of 
killing and eating an animal must wear a very different 
aspect from that which the same act presents to us, who 
r^ard the intelligence of animals as far inferior to our own 
and deny them the possession of immortal souls. Hence on 
the principles of his rude philosophy the primitive hunter 
who slays an animal believes himself exposed to the 
vengeance either of its disembodied spirit or of all the other 
animals of the same species, whom he considers as knit 
together, like men, by the ties of kin and the obligations of 
the blood feud, and therefore as bound to resent the injury 
done to one of their number. Accordingly the savage makes 
it a rule to spare the life of those animals which he has no 
pressing motive for killing, at least such fierce and dangerous 
animals as are likely to exact a bloody vengeance for the 
slaughter of one of their kind. Crocodiles are animals of 
this sort. They are only found in hot countries, where, as a 
rule, food is abundant and primitive man has therefore no 
reason to kill them for the sake of their tough and un- 
palatable flesh. Hence it is a general rule among savages 
to spare crocodiles, or rather only to kill them in obedience 
to the law of blood feud, that is, as a retaliation for the 
slaughter of men by crocodiles. For example, the Dyaks of 
Borneo will not kill a crocodile unless a crocodile has first 
killed a man. " For why, say they, should they commit an 
act of aggression, when he and his kindred can so easily re- 
pay them ? But should the alligator take a human life, 

' K. von den Steinen, Unter den Naturvoikem Zentral-Brasiliem^ pp. 
3S2» 5«2. 





revenge becomes a sacred duty of the living relatives, who 
will trap the man-eater in the spirit of an officer of justice 
pursuing a criminal. Others, even then, hang back, reluctant 
to embroil themselves in a quarrel which does not concern 
them. The man-eating alligator is supposed to be pursued 
by a righteous Nemesis ; and whenever one is caught they 
have a profound conviction that it must be the guilty one, 
or his accomplice." ^ When a Dyak has made up his mind 
to take vengeance on the crocodiles for the death of a kins- • \ 
man, he calls in the help of a Pangareran, a man whose 
business it is to charm and catch crocodiles and to make 
them do his will. While he is engaged in the discharge of 
his professional duties the crocodile-catcher has to observe a 
number of odd rules. He may not go to anybody and may \ 
not even pass in front of a window, because he is unclean. 
He may not himself cook anything nor come near a fire. 
If he would eat fruit, he may not peel or husk it himself, 
but must get others to do it for him. He may not even 
chew his food, but is obliged to swallow it unchewed. A 
little hut is made for him on the bank of the river, where he 
uses divination by means of the figure of a crocodile drawn 
on a piece of bamboo for the purpose of determining whether 
his undertaking will prosper. The boat in which he em- 
barks to catch the wicked man-eating crocodile must be 
painted yellow and red, and in the middle of it lances are 
erected with the points upward. Then the man of skill 
casts lots to discover whether the hook is to be baited with 
pork, or venison, or the flesh of a dog or an ass. In throw- 
ing the baited hook into the water he calls out : " Ye 
crocodiles who are up stream, come down ; and ye crocodiles 
who are down stream, come up ; for I will give you all good 
food, as sweet as sugar and as fat as cocoa-nut. I will give 
you a pretty and beautiful necklace. When you have got 
ity keep it in your neck and body, for this food is very 
pahunil^ which means that it would be sinful not to cat it 

1 Rev. J. Perham, '<Sea Dyak NeirUtnds Indii, 1846, dl. iii. 1 60; 

VifXx^oii^ JounuU of the Straits Bmnch S. MuUer, Reiten en ondtrtoekingen 

0f the Royal Asiatic Society ^ No. 10, in den Indischen Archipel^ i. 238 ; 

p. 221. Compare C Hupe, '*Korte Perelaer, Ethnographische Besckrij^ 

▼erhandeling over de godsdienst zeden, ving der Da/aks, p. 7. 
enz. der Dajakkers,** Tijdschrift voor 



If a crocodile bites at the hook, the crocodile -catcher 
i bawls but, " Choose a place for yourself where you will lie ; 
• for many men are come to see you. They are come joy- 
fully and exultingly, and they give you a knife, a lance, and 
; a shroud." If the crocodile is a female, he addresses her as 
" Princess " ; if it is a male, he calls it " Prince." The en- 
chanter, who is generally a cunning Malay, must continue his 
operations till he catches a crocodile in which traces are to be 
found showing that he has indeed devoured a human being. 
Then the death of the man is atoned for, and in order not to 
offend the water-spirits a cat is sacrificed to the crocodiles. 
The heads of the dead crocodiles are fastened on stakes 
beside the river, where in time they bleach white and stand out 
sharply against the green background of the forest* While 
the captured crocodile is being hauled in to the bank, the 
subtle Dyaks speak softly to him and beguile him into offering 
no resistance ; but once they have him fast, with arms and 
legs securely pinioned, they howl at him and deride him for 
his credulity, while they rip up the belly of the infuriated 
and struggling brute to find the evidence of his guilt in the 
shape of human remains. On one occasion Rajah Brooke 
of Sarawak was present at a discussion among a party of 
Dyaks as to how they ought to treat a captured crocodile. 
One side maintained that it was proper to bestow all praise 
and honour on the kingly beast, since he was himself a rajah 
among animals and was now brought there to meet the rajah ; 
in short, they held that praise and flattery were agreeable to 
him and would put him on his best behaviour. The other side 
fully admitted that on this occasion rajah met rajah ; yet with 
prudent foresight they pointed to the dangerous consequences 
which might flow from establishing a precedent such as 
their adversaries contended for. If once a captured crocodile, 
said they, were praised and honoured, the other crocodiles, 
on hearing of it, would be puffed up with pride and ambition, 
and being seized with a desire to emulate the glory of their 
fellow would enter on a career of man-eating as the road 
likely to lead them by the shortest cut to the temple of fame.^ 

» F. Grabowsky, "Die Theogonie * H. Ling Roth, The Natives of 

der Dajaken auf Borneo," Inter- Saravfok and Bntisk North Borneo^ i. 

naiionales Archi